Unwilling Accomplice

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“Mommy! Mommy! We found a caterpillar!”


“Oh, really? What does it look like?”


{Description ensues. Sometimes it’s a caterpillar, sometimes it’s a watermelon bug or a roly-poly. Fortunately they haven’t come across a rattlesnake… yet.}


“We are going to keep it as our pet!”


“Are you sure, girls? I think it would be better to let it go free. Remember the last bug you kept? It died.”


“No! It’s our friend! We’ve named it! Can we have some water for it? Like a whole dish?”


Now that the weather has changed the girls are spending a lot of time outside. Our house is surrounded by dirt. And trees and weeds. Perfect habitat for small insects.


They like to catch the insects and make them their own. They build them little houses and carry them around.


It’s a moral dilemma. Despite not participating in their pet care activities (I refuse to give them cups of water or the dog carrier as  home) I haven’t been intervening or forbidding it. The result is always the same: the longest any animal has lasted in their care is six hours.


Then we cry, we have a funeral, and we wake up the next day looking for a new pet.


I try to tell myself the little creatures have a short life expectancy, regardless of any human intervention. But it doesn’t help. Today’s being was a watermelon bug named “Sticky” and it lived one hour after discovery.


During that hour it was tortured. It got caught in a spider’s web. It was drowned in water. It was force fed grass and carried around on a rock.


The love and affection showered upon it killed it.


I told them to let Sticky rest but I didn’t tell them to let the creature go free. And when the girls showed up with tears in their eyes to tell me Uno had accidentally stepped on Sticky and that was the end of that, I gave her a marker so she could write “Our friend Sticky” on a rock as a headstone.


I’m an accomplice to the crime.


Bugs, beware. Steer clear of our killing fields. Please.


What do you think about kids depriving bugs of a long and happy life?

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