I told you I was going to be detailing our adventures around Delmarvapa (just coined that btw!) and I will, I promise! I want to use this platform to talk about some other closely related topics as well, and this one is important for you to read before you start your own outdoor adventures so I wanted to share it early on.
*Stands on soap box and clears throat…*
This goes out to all the family, friends, teachers, strangers, and anyone else who is an influential presence in my kids’ lives. PLEASE, I beg you, do not foster irrational fears in my boys’ minds. Do not make them murderers. Do not teach them to kill creatures just because they exist. I don’t mean to be harsh, but c’mon people, do we really want to set our kids up to be fearful of the unknown and misunderstood? I’m talking about snakes, spiders, insects, worms, and all other creepy crawlies for lack of a better phrase.
Lets first take a closer look in to YOUR fear of these creatures. Where does it come from? Did you have a bad experience as a child? Did your own parents teach you to be afraid? Did society tell you that these creatures are to be hated? I think it is time to be realistic. Lets go through an exercise together. I’m not a therapist but if I was this is what I would do…
Imagine yourself in your kitchen, minding your own business when something buzzes past you. You whip around and see the culprit on your counter, a stinkbug! Normally you would reach for the closest object and smash it but this time you are going to FREEZE the scene. Look at the stink bug. It’s just sitting there. No bigger than the size of your pinky fingernail. He is most certainly in the wrong place at the wrong time but he didn’t mean to be there. He would much rather be outside with his friends frolicking in the nearby soybean field. He’s lost and scared. You take a closer look. He’s kind of cute! His buzz is annoying, yes. His stink? Gross, but it’s his only defense mechanism and you’re scary as hell. You decide that he is going to live another day and you scoop him in to a cup and dump him in to the planter on your deck. You’ve officially done your good deed for the day AND you’ve conquered a fear. Now don’t you feel accomplished?? Just try it in real life, YOU CAN DO IT!
Now lets get educated!
The Black Widow:
The Northern Copperhead:
I do understand that not all creatures are loveable, but they do all have a purpose (even if I have no idea what it is.) I’m looking at you hornets, ticks and mosquitoes!!!!!! We want to no longer fear these creatures, but we can still hate the little jerks 🙂
Now that we know which TWO things to avoid, we can be more rational regarding our interactions with all non-human beings. I challenge you to transform your encounters with creepy crawlies in to educational experiences. Our kids should look at these things with wonder and amazement rather than fear and disgust. It is understandable that it may take some time to undo years and years of fear so I don’t expect you to change your mindset overnight, but I urge you not to influence your children based on your own irrational fears. They are little sponges! It is a great privilege to be their teacher and it is your duty to prepare them for the real world. Insects (and all other creatures) are a part of it and are CRITICAL to our existence. Without them, we wouldn’t be here so lets show a little respect!
The next time you come face to face with an eight legged friend, encourage your child to help him on his way by placing him outside instead of dooming him to be stuck to the bottom of your shoe for all eternity. This is a GREAT learning opportunity! If your child is old enough, ask them to count how many legs Mr. Spider has. Grab a magnifying glass and have them count how many eyes it has. Engage them by asking how cool it would be to have eight eyes. Imagine how much more you could see at once. You might even be able to look at the ceiling and the floor at the same time! Teach them that spiders are not insects, they are arachnids. Read a book about spiders and other arachnids together. Equip your child with knowledge rather than fear. Knowledge is power!
When interacting with flora and fauna, I first encourage my kids to respect all living things. We do not kill creatures for the fun of it and we try to leave things as we found them, if not better. (More on that later!) Second, I teach caution. We do not run up and touch things until we know that they are safe. We observe animals from a respectful distance so as not to disturb them. If it is appropriate to do so, I encourage touching and even holding of insects and plants. If you do not feel comfortable identifying creatures that are safe to interact with, that’s perfectly fine! Looking with our eyes is great too. Throughout our adventures I will be sure to point out things that are perfectly safe to touch and things that aren’t so good, so stay tuned!
If you are looking for a gift idea for your little naturalist, this thing is a HUGE hit in our house Bonus: you don’t have to touch the insects if you don’t want to!