Teaching a child not to step on a caterpillar is as valuable to the child, as it is to the caterpillar! When my three year old nephew recently stepped on a stinging caterpillar while running outside, I realised how important this lesson really is. In his case it was an accident and he was simply running around having fun barefoot when the hidden assailant took it’s aim. The painful aftermath though, was a reminder of how powerful these little creatures are. They were made that way so that they could protect themselves and protect himself this little creature did. Had my nephew been wearing shoes, the little caterpillar may not have been so lucky!
All humour aside, it made me think about how often we stop to teach children about our little friends in the garden and how we should look after them. Yes, I’m as guilty as the next person when it comes to stepping on ants and spiders or swatting flies and mosquitoes but maybe we need to reassess here. Yes, there will be times when your kitchen is alive with ants running the show and you have no choice but to use ant rid. Or times when you are having a BBQ and your arms and those belonging to your guests become a feast for the hungry mosquitos, so you have to spray repellent. But lets think of the big picture – the harmless garden spider spinning it’s web out on a tree branch or the bees sitting in your favourite flowers pollinating. Just like you and I, they all have a purpose. We all know that bees make honey but do we all know that they are a vital part of our ecosystem? Without bees there would be no honey or lots of other foods because bees pollinate hectares of agricultural crops daily. Not only do we need these crops to eat but plants make oxygen and we can’t breathe without it!
For my little nephew, I guess the lesson was to wear shoes when running outside but it was also an opportunity to teach him about why it is important not to step on a caterpillar. Yes, it does hurts but the real reason is that it is a creature just like you and me and all creatures big and small are valuable. If you visit the library, bookstores, or the internet, with your darling precious children there is lots of information about insects and other creatures. You can find out about their life-cycles and use it as a wonderful opportunity to teach children why everything has value. Talk about how we take care of our environment and everything in it, the future child and it’s living world with thank you for it someday.
On a final happy note, my nephew was fine and we got all the spikes out safely using a wax strip. The caterpillar was also fine and hopefully crawled off somewhere peaceful to become a beautiful butterfly!
Darling Precious Children