The Wondrous Nonsense of Childhood


Early in the summer, when we were out on a walk, my daughter Esther said, "Look at that worm." "Yuck!" I responded.  "I've never thought they were yucky," said Esther. I began to tell her that I'd always thought so when I remembered how I felt as a young child. When I would find a dried up worm on the pavement I was determined to revive it. So I would create a couch out of cotton balls and tape and I would prop the stiff, lifeless worm on the couch. Then I would fill a bottle top with water and dip what I believed to be the worm's mouth (?) into the water, and I would pray for the worm to feel better. Thankfully my attention span was short enough that I never noticed the zero percent revival rate of my patients. 

Thinking about the lifeless worms I tried to heal as a child reminded me of the Roly Poly trees I planted. I loved Roly Polys (for those who aren't familiar with these, they are cute little bugs also known as Pill Bugs). I loved the way they crawled along on my hand and if I touched them much, they would roll up in a perfect little ball. Sadly, sometimes I was impatient, wanting them to unroll and crawl again, which lead to a few accidental Roly Poly casualties and a lot of tears from me. I comforted myself with the notion that if I planted the dead bugs, Roly Poly Trees would grow up and there would be lots of Roly Polys. I was always careful to mark the spot where I'd planted them, but later I still couldn't remember where they were and what I'd marked them with. 

And then there were all the salads I made for the squirrels. I would gather everything from the yard that looked squirrel-worthy: nuts, mushrooms, tiny blue flowers (for color) and all sorts of twigs and leaves. I can still see them in my mind— colorful, textured circles of nature-art. I bet the squirrels really did like them. 

I made leaf sailboats too. Where I grew up, Magnolia leaves worked the best. And I'd use a twig and a flimsy leaf or petal as the sail. Flower crowns, pillow forts, wishing stars… Don't you love the wondrous nonsense of childhood?!