Raising your children to be nature kids takes a little creativity, courage, knowledge (or willingness to look things up) and sensitivity. My oldest daughter, Sarah, recently discovered this with her 3-year-old son, Sam.
Sarah, her husband and three young children moved from New York City to Omaha last summer for several reasons. Of course, the kids are enjoying having their own big backyard and watching nature from their windows. They visited a park nearly every day in New York, but it’s just not the same as your own backyard. When you have your own backyard, side yard, and front yard, it’s only a matter of looking out a window to watch a rabbit hiding under the bushes, a squirrel running up a tree, or birds hunting for worms.
That is just what happened one day last week. Sarah and Sam were enjoying a quiet morning in the kitchen looking out the bay window into the backyard. Sam was watching a squirrel hang upside-down eating seeds out of a tube bird feeder. He thought it was a funny squirrel trick and was laughing out loud. Sarah was taking in the moment, smiling at her boy’s joy.
All of a sudden, a fox came darting out of the shrubs grabbed the squirrel off of the feeder, carried it about ten feet and proceeded to eat him for breakfast!
Sarah and Sam witnessed the whole thing. Sarah was a bit dismayed and worried about Sam’s reaction. He had been snuggled on her lap throughout the whole event. She peaked her head around to see his face. He sat there still as can be with eyes wide, mouth slightly parted -- watching. To her surprise (and relief) he didn’t seem too affected. She asked him what he thought of all of that, and he replied, “I want him to do it again.”
“So much for all of that worry,” she told me later. When the fox finished, he simply sauntered away.
Sam and Sarah continued sitting there discussing what occurred on the stage in front of them. With the fox clearly gone, birds returned to the grass searching for worms. A robin found a big earthworm and began tugging. This drew Sam’s attention and he stopped chatting to watch. The robin won the tug-of-war and the worm popped out. Sam watched as the robin swallowed the worm. He then promptly burst into tears! Sarah was befuddled!
Big, round tears rolled down his cheeks as he cried, “He ate my friend! He ate my friend. Worms are my friends!” He was inconsolable. Sarah tried and tried to talk to him, but he could not be comforted. “He ate my friend. Worms are my friends!”
As Sarah relayed the whole morning to me over the phone, I could play out the scene in front of me. Little Sammie my garden helper, always squatting next to the garden waiting for me to dig up a worm so he can put it in his hand to carry around to show everyone. He loves to collect a big handful, or better yet, a flower pot full, or bucket full. Anything full of worms is his favorite.
A breakfast of squirrel or worms. I guess it’s all perspective.
Reach Lynn Youngblood at TheGreenSpace@sbcglobal.net.