It’s Earth Day and my tree-hugging daughter and I are going out for lunch. Out, that is, to one of her favorite local nature areas — Hempstead Lake State Park — with a garbage bag and gloves to pick up the trash that others leave behind on our favorite little beach. We’ll grab a quick slice [of pizza, in case you’re not from NY] and head back to school in time for her science lesson morphing caterpillars into butterflies.
I encourage my daughter, at every turn, to preserve the earth and to respect and help save all the creatures we share it with. So, FINALLY on time for school this morning — barely –as she kisses her little broeys and me good bye and runs up the walkway to school (I watch her all the way to the door where she blows me kisses and hugs and waves her final goodbyes), she stops short and yells back to me, “Mom, an earthworm! He’s still alive! Can I save him?” I yell, “GO TO SCHOOL!” and she reluctantly moves on. And, so do I, driving my 90-minute, drop-the-boys-to-school loop.
Lest I forget, before I pull out of the school parking lot, I grab a pen in the car and write today’s reminders on my hand — because there’s never any paper available when someone says, “can you…blah blah blah?” I find my hand is always handy and I have to attend to it before it gets washed away so things tend to get done once I commit it to the hand. Today’s list goes something like this:
– Liv Lunch
– Boy’s Invite (birthday)
– Dees Flower List (PTA)
– Dog at X24 (call sanitation about dead dog lying on the side of the highway for 6 months).
Suddenly (not surprisingly given the last entry), I’m reminded of Olivia’s worm. “Mom, he’s still alive!” One of the principles of Buddhism is to honor all living creatures — I think because they believe even an earthworm could have been some one’s mother in a past life. The whole “soul lives on” thing… which I totally buy into. And, I KNOW that the first thing Olivia will ask me when I see her for lunch in 10 minutes is…. “Did you save that worm, Mom?” I can’t say yes if I didn’t! And, I’m a hypocrite if I don’t save it. I try like heck to do the right thing all the time… even when it’s inconvenient or harder to do the right thing.
Mind you, my daughter saves every moving earthworm she encounters on the school walkway, every time it rains… much to the chagrin of my father who picks her up from school. Oddly, I remember vividly, doing this EXACT thing on this very SAME walkway when I was her age (she attends my elementary alma mater). So, I pull up in front of the school right behind a school bus waiting to board students for a class trip. Engine running, I hop out, pick up a small twig and begin perusing the walkway for wiggling worms. I manage to rescue 3 worms, one of which, I’m certain, is Olivia’s worm. As the bus driver looks on, I walk the length of the walkway up and back to my car satisfied that I’ve done the job well. Then, I explain to the bus driver, “My daughter saw a live worm on the sidewalk this morning when I dropped her off. She didn’t have time to save it. I know it’s the first thing she’ll ask me when I see her. I can’t lie to her and I can’t hold my head up in support of earth day and all it means, if I don’t walk the walk and talk the talk. But, mostly, I want to be able to say to my daughter that I did the right thing and saved the worm for her. He smiled and said he totally understood.
It made me feel good about me and my parenting style. To know, not only for myself but for my daughter, that I’m doing the right thing when, honestly, it’s easier not to. I’m walking the walk and talking the talk and setting a good example for my daughter’s sake. I can already picture her pure, loving smile when she asks and I can say honestly, “Yes, Olivia, I saved your worm.”