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July 3, 2012

I'm Not Studying to Be a Jain Monk

I read a book not long ago about a man on a pilgrimage to become a Jain monk.  “Ahimsa”, or non-violence, is among the primary principles of this ancient Indian religion.  Devout followers go to great lengths to make sure they aren’t harming any living creatures.  They wear masks to ensure they don’t accidentally inhale an insect [thus killing it]; they carry a small broom to sweep their path of ants.

Yeah, that’s not me.

I try to be kind to the environment and its inhabitants.  I will scoop up an errant beetle from inside and let him out the door…and Hubby is amazingly skilled at catching flies and releasing them to the wild.  But a spider in the kitchen?  His little guts get squished and his remains promptly flushed.  Arividerche, arachnid! 

With beetles and flies…and even spiders…I’m careful how I present them to the girls.  That little beetle doesn’t want to be in here any more than we want him in here.  Let’s help him find his way back outside.”

I sometimes have to suppress my inner “ick” factor…and I may well be over-thinking things…but I am trying to portray to the girls a level of respect for all God’s creatures, even the creepy-crawly ones.

(And as for spiders, don’t you know that they like to swim?  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!)

Really, though, nature is pretty darn amazing.  The circle of life, the interplay among species and plants, it’s truly complex choreography.  It’s hard to fully grasp the breadth of nature, but I believe that there’s something pretty amazing about almost everything, if we only seek to find it.

I’ve had a couple of experiences lately – not unlike the “rat”conversation back before the holidays – that make me oddly protective of some more maligned creatures.

At the zoo a few weeks ago, we went into the “Noctural” habitat.  Among the displays there was a big bat colony.  It was really cool to see them flying around and feeding on fruit.  There were two adults, whose kids I guess were somewhere nearby…they were squealing, “Ooh!  O-M-G!  Gross!!!  I hate bats!!!

The girls were excited to see the bats (they love the book “Stellaluna”), and I was trying to talk over the rude ladies.  Wow!  How cool!  Look at them flying around!  Isn’t that amazing!  Do you think one of them is named Stellaluna?

There was a similar display from the ladies (I’m being generous here) over the gigantic South American roaches.  [Note: I was fighting a big case of the heebie-jeebies looking all those roaches crawling everywhere…but I still managed my, “Wow!  Look how big they are!  Cool!”]

Last week we attended story time at the bookstore.  The book was something along the lines of “Bugs Galore”, a cute rhyming story with great illustrations, talking about the many different types of bugs.  The poor bookstore lady could barely read over the din of [little!] children saying, “Ick!  Ooh!  Gross!  I hate bugs!” on every single page.

Perhaps those were the children of the women from the zoo.  I don’t know.

But there I was again, trying to out-talk the little kids, at least to my girls.  Look!  It’s a roly-poly!  We saw one of those at the park!  Ants are amazing…they’re so strong!

If anything, I worry that my girls have no sense of danger when they see a bee, or an ant, or a rabid raccoon (hypothetically speaking on that one).

We talk about respecting bees, and not trying to touch them, or bother them in their work.  And we would never want to disturb an ant hill, that the ants have worked so diligently to build.

I figure there’s time for safety and socially-driven particulars as the girls get older.  For now, I’m perfectly fine if the word “gross” is not part of my girls’ vocabulary.


cat said...

We try very hard to get the kids to respect nature - we even catch spiders ina jar with paper below and release them. Sadly, I do not feel the same about flies and mosquitoes. But, my big thing is snakes - I am petrified of snakes - to the level that I can not even look at a picture in a book of snakes and I getbtotally sick. So when we go to the zoo or reptile park, I get someone more positive and less scared to go with the kids and I just staybaway from the area to not transfer my deep fear.

James said...

We do more shooing than squishing around here, too.

I don't mind the description of "gross," though. I think that's what makes certain bugs, like giant cockroaches, so cool. Their disgustingness is their gift! They may make our skin crawl, but they deserve our respect all the same.

Gross is beautiful, too. :)

Mandy said...

This is something I wish I would have worked harder to contain. I *REALLY* dislike a vast majority of the creepy crawlies. My cousin finds it highly entertaining. However the girls have picked this up, so I am not having to go out of my way and make bugs and the like neat. Far more stressful than I anticipated.

Amanda said...

Oh it is so hard to swallow the inner gross out when presenting stuff to the kids. I, myself, am not a fan of birds and was doing a decent job of putting on a brave front so my kiddos wouldn't have the same phobia, until a bird attacked me. Jill thinks it's funny though.