This week I had the pleasure of accompanying my daughter’s Kindergarten class on a field trip to our local Audubon Society. I’m pretty sure it was all the more pleasurable because I got to ride in my own car (aka Swagger Wagon) drinking coffee rather than bouncing along in the school bus belching up breakfast.
Transportation issues aside, I learned a lot in my few hours at the Audubon with twenty five-year olds. For starters, I really learned a lot about bugs. While I might have preferred to focus more on flora and fauna, insects were the topic du jour. Did you know, for instance, that an insect by definition has six legs? Or that monarch butterflies (technically not insects!) only lag eggs on milkweed? Or that treasure troves of creepy, crawly bugs live under rocks and fallen branches? That one wasn’t a total newsflash to me but, some of the other tidbits most certainly were.
I happily picked up a neat new catch phrase for avoiding poison ivy (“Leaves of three, let it be.”) and rather reluctantly laid my eyes on spittlebugs for the very first time. I’m not sure how I missed this unique species for the past oh, forty years but, once you know what you’re looking for (hint: they look like nasty piles of spit on a plant stem), they are really hard to miss.
When I got back to office, I shared my newfound knowledge with my co-workers, all of whom seemed either A. grossed out; B. confused by my enthusiasm; or C. questioned why my mind was retaining such details. “Where are you ever going to use that nugget about monarch butterflies?” they asked.
Where? Well, for starters, beyond the little lady who I was lucky to accompany on this adventure, there are four boys at home, all eager for information and all amply impressed when I shared this nugget: “You know, if you pick up a frog, it really will pee on you.” Ok, so a frog isn’t a bug and that pee may actually be a mucous discharge that acts as a defense mechanism but still, this an impressive nugget of knowledge!
Perhaps most importantly, I learned how important it is to simply show up. To take a few hours off of work, leave the phone in the Swagger Wagon and focus -- completely focus -- on my little girl. Hold her hand. Jump over puddles. Leap over logs. Peek under rocks. Tune out everything but her… well, her and the poison ivy which is apparently prolific this time of year!
I left the Audubon thinking about happy it makes me to hold her little hand. And, that I don’t hold it nearly enough. My hands are often over capacity trying to hold the hands of her triplet little brothers as we cross streets, navigate stores and maneuver our way through the world around us. Thanks to this kindergarten field trip, I’m going to be holding her hand more often. And, I see once again the wisdom in that adage “everything you need to know, you learned in Kindergarten.” I’d put holding hands at the top of that list. Although, if those hands recently handled spittlebugs, I’d much prefer they were washed first!