In these days of modern technology, when kids spend too much time glued to monitors, a dose of nature is always encouraged in my household, whether it is marvelling at eggs in a bird’s nest, planting seeds in the soil, or saving frogs from chlorine-overdoses in the pool. I don’t know that the frogs are so appreciative when my daughters decide to make a home for them in a plastic box, dunk a cup of water over them and try to force-feed them leaves. Garden snails get the same treatment, but in one case I think I suffered more than the snail. When its ‘home’ was left in my bedroom with the lid off, the case of the disappearing snail haunted me in my sleep. I imagined waking up with a slimy snail trail across my forehead.
Then there was the time my 5-year-old tiptoed past me holding a limp lizard by its tail. Its body was paper-thin.
“What happened?” I asked.
“It got run over.”
She scrunched up her face. “Fell off my remote control car.”
“That’s cruel. Why did you do that?”
“So it could have a ride.”
It reminded me of my husband’s childhood story of living on a farm and putting an abandoned kitten in the oven to “keep it warm”. Thankfully the cat survived. Another time he took a duckling to bed with him “to keep it company”. By morning the squashed duck was no company for anyone.
Perhaps playing with nature is not all it’s cracked up to be.