Dear Son discovered furry caterpillars last week. We've long known of his fascination with worms, so his excitement over the furry variety was not a surprise. He could not have been more excited as the little thing wiggled and tickled as it crawled on his hand.
It reminded me of my childhood days when I would take country walks with my grandmother. She lived on a farm in rural Iowa, and we would walk the dirt roads in mile increments. She also gave me a brown paper lunch size bag to carry along as I loved to collect pretty rocks as we walked. I'm guessing my age in these memories to be around 4 or 5 years.
One day as I walked with Grandma, I discovered a fuzzy "teddy bear" caterpillar. I was so attracted to its fuzziness and felt some sort of ownership over it, and so I placed it in my paper bag. The one that already had a dozen or more pretty little rocks in it. Needless to say, by the time we got home, my pretty rocks were covered with green caterpillar guts, and my fuzzy little "teddy bear" caterpillar wasn't so fuzzy anymore. I think it must have been traumatic in order for me still to remember it so vividly 32 years later.
Dear Son "mothered" his caterpillar for a very long time, wrapping his little fist around it and carrying about lovingly. Transferring it from one hand to the other, dropping it on the concrete driveway from time to time and then snatching it back up and rollling it about in his hot little fist some more.
Dear Daughter was equally fascinated with it, and begged her little brother for a turn to hold it, and then after finally talking him into it, chickened out. She did work hard at picking grass blades for him to eat and hide in, though.
I finally grew concerned that the furry little critter was getting lethargic and it would soon be fondled to its death, so I suggested we let it go back to the grass. Dear Son was not too sure about this suggestion until I finally said that I thought the caterpillar might be sad because he misses his Mommy and Daddy. Dear Son looked very very concerned with this thought, and wandered to the grass where he lovingly set the limp creature back in the grass.
He squatted in the same spot for several moments and watched until the caterpillar found its way into hiding among the blades of grass. Then he turned to look at me with a mixture of sadness and hope as he inquired, "Caterpillar not happy?"
I reassured him that the caterpillar was going to find his family again and would be happy. This seemed to satisfy him, and we went onto something else, such as two-year-olds do.
Dear Daughter followed me to the clothesline, yammering about the caterpillar and whether or not he was happy. Weary of her non-stop jabbering and questioning, I replied rather shortly, "Not if he doesn't find his Mommy and Daddy!" Daughter was quite concerned as she stated for the 100th time, "...but WILL he?" and without waiting for a response added "Do you think his Mommy and Daddy moved to Canada?"
Huh? I had no idea where this came from. I have no memory of ever talking about Canada, and didn't know my just-turned-five-year-old even knew there was a Canada.