As I overheard 5-year-old Kyle say to his older brother, "Hey, we should check on Furball!" I cringed. It was our very first caterpillar, and...well, he didn't make it. I'd read that when a caterpillar curls up and lies still for a day or so, one shouldn't worry...he's likely just gearing up for that cocoon. Sadly, that wasn't the case with Furball. I'd followed given him green plants, a damp sponge, a stick on which to climb, air circulation, and a familiar temperature. But somehow it wasn't enough. I guess his culinary tastes were a little more advanced than what I offered him.
It's a good thing we don't have a puppy.
And so, several weeks had passed since our dear Furball had gone to his reward (or, you know, whatever). Yet I hadn't found -or made- the time to tell my children. I vacillated between thinking "Oh, he's just a caterpillar, maybe they'll forget," and "He's the first 'creature' we've ever adopted, and they were excited about it!" ...and somehow, I just never told them. I know. I know. I'm such a bad mommy. When it comes to a real pet, I promise I won't keep its demise a secret. But in the case of the caterpillar, I suppose it was just a cross between dread and forgetfulness.
Today, though, he was remembered, and I knew without a doubt that I needed to 'fess up. They took the news reasonably well. Kyle blinked, gave a grin and a shrug, and said "Maybe we should've gotten a caterpillar kit after all." Thanks, kid. Let's chalk it up to my refusal to buy official supplies. That makes me feel a lot better...
...Ah, but Benjamin. Sweet, sensitive Benjamin. He got the jar, peered around until he found the pitiful little thing, and set it down. He came and stood by me, head bowed, eyes downcast. I gave him a hug. "I'm really sorry I didn't tell you before this, buddy. I just didn't know how to say it. Will you forgive me?" We shared a hug, and Kyle and I discussed more about how Furball's dietary needs exceeded what I'd give him. Ben was still looking sober, standing quietly by my side. Then -
"Mom?" he said. (Where oh where did Mama go? I miss it tremendously.) "I have something that I want to say to you."
Eyes locked on his, I assured my boy that I was all ears. I took a deep breath. Did he feel betrayed? Treated like a baby? Would he ever be able trust me again?
"Well," he began again, "I just wanted to say that...that...you know those Roman numerals I've been writing?"
"Sure, honey. What about them?"
"I think it would good if I could learn them on a Nintendo DS."
Yeah, I think he'll get over the caterpillar.