(Toss up between “Monarch” and “Metamorphosis” this time. Figure–hope–I might need to save “Metamorphosis.”)

Live Butterfly Gardens undoubtedly a good idea—popular Springtime birthday gifts, preschool science projects, whatever.

They’re just not the best idea for McDiesel.

McD loves these things for the exact reasons this experiment has Disaster written all over it (magnetic pull to paradox and contradiction definite symptom of ADHD?): butterfly gardens are made of delicate mesh, contain tiny living things, require being Left Alone. Baby Monarchs do not magically appear right away; metamorphosis takes patience. (Note to self: Remember That.)

We’ve gotten two butterfly gardens (to date) and have successfully released zero baby butterflies (to date). (And–don’t worry–I’m not blaming it all on McD.)

So… Driving home from preschool, McD exuberant: two baby butterflies just hatched in the classroom’s habitat. (Two times the success we’ve ever had at home.) They can fly around the habitat, they have orange, the class is going to have a party and set them free… Thinking over his little voice about metaphorical significance of metamorphosis, Spring and beginnings, hatching beautiful new behavior. About to be carried away by philosophical underpinnings of the Monarch experience and Rihanna on the radio when McD sighs and, encumbered by thumb in his mouth, announces (somewhat annoyed if matter-of-factly) that Ms. P (the B) put him in timeout (twice) for swinging (twice) the habitat of baby butterflies.

As usual, flight of philosophical fancy—new beginnings, transformation, fluttery hope—plummets. Promise of behavioral metamorphosis dashed. Worse and worse: Ms. P perhaps not a B in this instance.

Feel compelled to issue (also usual) lecture on baby animals, God’s creatures, and gentleness, but deliver it by rote and half-heartedly. Worrying, worrying that there may not be metamorphosis for McD’s behavior—and, more important, isn’t this how serial killers start out?

Think of all the tailless lizards in the backyard who managed (by ejecting tails) to escape McD’s capture.

Plummeting, plummeting.

McD sucks thumb. Thinks. About God’s creatures and preciousness of life? About impulsivity of swinging habitat of brand-new butterflies? About Ms. P having one up on him now?

Of course not, but even better.

He pulls his thumb out and says (in his own defense): “Well: I swinged the cage, but Spencer pulled off the wings!”

Spencer—good boy and son of perfectly coiffed queen of the preschool mothers (who is also locally feted child psychologist)—is my hero. Laugh out loud (nullifying usual lecture). McD laughs out loud. Hope and optimism resurface. Exuberance salvaged. Metamorphosis once more—always—entirely possible. (Note to self, again.) Turn up Rihanna and sing all the way home. Spencer–typical and naughty–saves the day.

2 thoughts on “Monarch

  1. William James said that what we might call think of as destructive impulses in children are actually creative impulses–they are remaking the world on their own terms.

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