Friday, July 06, 2007

Bad Mama Files

A new blog featurette where I reveal a questionable parenting decision
(It's like the Rockford Files, but without the ex-cons and the Firebird...)

Last weekend I discovered a caterpillar clinging to my Helenium. I had visions of the entire plant being devoured by morning. So I decided that instead of disposing of the insect it would be fun to put it into a jar and watch it turn into a butterfly. Needless to say everything I know about this process comes from The Very Hungry Caterpillar. Henry and Lucy were excited by the prospect, so we found an old salsa jar, and some maple leaves. Cary said, "If you want it to turn into a Butterfly you need a stick." So we added a stick. I dutifully pounded some holes in the top with a nail and waited for the childhood memories to take hold.

After a couple of days we added some more leaves, and Henry and I agreed that the caterpillar looked bigger to us. It had definitely eaten some of the maple leaves. We managed to keep Lucy from shaking the jar like a snow globe. So far so good.

But by yesterday I noticed that its size had shrunk considerably. It had a dark sticky spot on its side. Preparation for the chrysalis? Nope. It needed water desperately. By the time I figured this out it lay at the bottom of the jar. I added some water, and man did the poor little shrinking caterpillar drink. When it climbed up back onto one of the maple leaves I held out a sliver of hope. Half an hour later it was shriveled on the floor of its jar, a dessicated hairy spiral.

I didn't know exactly how to handle it with the kids. Henry still hasn't asked to see it but we're having friends over for dinner so I felt compelled to dispose of the remains. Lucy asked to see it this morning and it turns out that she enjoyed the dead caterpillar just as much as the living one. I said to her, "Honey, the caterpillar isn't ever going to turn into a butterfly." "OK," she replied, and danced off to grab a toy pony.

So if I see another caterpillar, am I going to try it again? Probably. Maybe with some instructions this time. I really want to see a newly hatched butterfly.

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