Thursday, October 8, 2009

You Can Give a Girl a Tissue...

We seem to be fast-forwarding through fall here in Colorado. We've all but packed away our summer clothes, trading our sunscreen for mittens and wool hats. On more than one occasion I've thought, I really need to get Ben's snowsuit, so that he has it for the wet and snowy days at school. Yesterday morning when we walked out of the store to the car, Abby said, "Ihs chih-ee today, Mama." In an effort to escape the chill in the air and the snow on the ground, everyone is heading in where it's warm--including the creepy-crawlies.

The last few days when we've gone down to the basement to play, we've discovered crickets and spiders and other insects of both the live and post-live variety. This afternoon as Ben filled his train-masquerading-as-school-bus with little plastic people, he noticed a small spider crawling off one of the people and onto the carpet and asked me to kill it.

Let me just stop right here to say that squishing any sort of critter possessing eight legs or an exoskeleton is not my specialty. Generally, I grab the closest empty cup I can find, turn it upside down, and trap the intruder until Josh arrives to dispose of it properly. That's my system. Cage it in plastic. No messy squishing for me.

But today, Ben was insistent, and my powers of persuasion were unable to convince him that he should let it run off to find another home. I was also unable to coax him into doing the dirty work himself. So I took a deep breath, pretended it would be no big deal, and asked him to grab me a tissue, which he did gladly.

When he returned from the bathroom, however, he brought me only three measley squares of toilet paper, an amount I found insufficient to protect my fingers from any byproducts of the smooshing. I asked with my nicest manners if he would grab a little more and Abby, perhaps sensing my discomfort, trotted off immediately to get some. She, however, returned with a piece of tissue smaller than a postage stamp, which she held in her fingers while crouching close to the spider as though she were going to handle it.

I promptly shooed her away and swept in for the spider before she grabbed it with her practically naked fingers. Once it was wrapped neatly in the tissue, Ben carried it to the garbage, and that was the end of it.

Until we began picking up the toys and Ben found two dead crickets by the sliding glass door. I had used all my bug-ridding energy with the spider, so I was going to leave them for my kind, kind, understanding husband. We continued picking up the toys and putting things away, and while we returned the little people to bins and put puzzle pieces in their rightful places, Abby asked for a tissue. I assumed her nose was running.

"You can go get a tissue, Sugar" I told her and continued orchestrating our basement-tidying efforts.

A minute later, Abby walked up behind me and said, "I gaht duh bugs, Mama," and held out her tissue with not one but two dead crickets tucked neatly inside. I was simultaneously amazed and appalled, carefully taking the tissue from her hands so as not to drop the contents. I tried to wipe all traces of horror from my face, thanked her sincerely, fussed over what a big helper she is, and threw it away.

Once I got past the intial shock, I found myself feeling so immensely proud of her for being unphased, in spite of my own squeamishness. And relieved that she would not grow up to be paralyzed by critters the size of her fingertip like her mother. She's two, and she's already exceeding me in qualities like bravery in the face of an arachnid.

It's stunning, thrilling. It gives me so much hope. This little girl who is completely separate from me, her own little person already--who will she become? What dragons will she slay? What mountains will she climb? This afternoon, as totally ridiculous and sappy as it sounds, I felt truly honored to know her--and grateful for the privelege of answering to the utterly endearing title of her "Mama."

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