My natural born naturalist
If I wonder where he is and happen to notice he is gone, I need only holler his name in my sing-song mama voice out the back door. Sometimes I simply peek and get a visual on him and just leave him be.
Nature, creatures, being outdoors are critical to his ability to cope with life. Might seem like an overstatement, but for him, truly it isn’t.
He grabs my hand and brings me to a plant where a tiny frog is perched on a blossom. I watch as he walks back and forth in the grass that isn’t anything close to the expanses he dreams of. Literally every time we drive by a field of grass he tells me in a wistful tone, “Oh mama, look at that – I want to run there and run and run. Wouldn’t it be wonderful?”.
He is looking. Taking in the blades of grass and making his daily inventory of what lives here. A giant beetle flipped upside down. A freshly spun web with a lovely reddish spider at home. He checks the chicken coop for eggs, still none, any day now though and he knows it. He’s determined to be the first one to find one.
He delights in all things living. He tears up when he tells me he accidentally left the frog in full sunlight and its “all dried up”. His finger nails are a perpetual tinge of brown. He always smells earthy when I bury my head in his moppy hair.
Why do I fuss about his dirt covered feet – again – when someday I’ll wish I could scrub them and make him laugh again?
He talks quiet by the place where his bunny is buried in the front yard. He rescues a magnificent dragonfly from our cats paws. He catches bees by the dozen in mason jars and marvels when he finds one four times as big as the others and wonders why in the world it is so huge. He holds the jar to his ear and listens to the sound he loves of them buzzing.
Why don’t I ever take the time to listen with him?
We go on a walk and he sees a garter snake, snatches it right up and holds it up for the rest of us to see. We come home and pile inside but he stays out and scours the garden for anything ripe to eat. He proudly comes in holding a shirt full of snap peas.
So much about the way his brain works and body feels I know I can’t understand. It is complicated. Though I’ve learned a great deal, I still miss chances every day to love him the way he needs love. I hold to a truth I often recite back to myself when I forget
“I am the best mother for THESE children in this home, they have been entrusted to ME as gifts uniquely created and put in THIS family with purpose. It was not a mistake. God doesn’t make any.”
On days when a doctor tells me “He would really thrive in a one child family” it is impossible not to cry or let my heart break. But I still have a choice to make, I can choose to see the gift and the purpose (even when its unclear). That part is up to me.
On days like today when he comes running in loudly with a handful of inchworms and we all sit and soak in their cute minuteness.
We go online and look up inchworm, only to find there aren’t really inchworms just larvae (caterpillars). Who knew? We take careful note of all its features and look up its name. Just yesterday we read in science about taxonomy and how scientists organize living things. So imagine my glee when we find the precise caterpillar, along with its complete classification. We literally just finished talking about binomial nomenclature and here we are holding tiny Nadata gibbosa larvae right here in our family room!
We first had given them grape leaves but upon learning who they were (also known as green oak caterpillars) we got them some oak leaves and they started eating right away. Too fun.
I may sound like such a nerd, but seriously after a week of sick children and the high point yesterday of all 6 of us crammed into a tiny dental room for an hour while the above mentioned nature boy got two cavities filled….well, really this find was more than a delightful end to our week.
It felt like a rare treasure. Like a little window to God’s amazing world. A world that my son appreciates and basks in more than almost anyone I’ve ever known.