Thursday, September 15, 2011

Metamorphosis Part 1

It was a hot and rather humid June day when we were driving around singing one of our signature car songs when at a red light, Bella noticed a butterfly in a bush along the roadside. Her singing stopped. I kept on. 

If you're happy and you know it, snort like a pig. Oink, Oink.

"Mom? Mooooom?"

If you're happy and you know it, count to five.

"MOM!!! Didn't Santa bring us a butterfly and ladybug thingy for Christmas?"

If you're happy and you know it......oh crap! She's right. Gulp. That was SIX months ago. 

Where the hell did I put that?

A few hours later no thanks to that damn roadside butterfly, I dusted off the Butterfly Garden and Ladybug Land and with a few keystrokes ordered us some live caterpillars and ladybug larvae. 

 A week or so later when they arrived, I shared in my daughters childish excitement. I mean it WAS exciting. How often do you get live animals delivered to your mailbox? 

Forget my Ballards Design catalogue---these were awesome!

The caterpillars arrived in a little cup and the ladybug larvae arrived in a long tube which was to be dumped, gently, into the cute little Ladybug dome. Mia's definition of gentle is much different than the lovely folks at Insect Lore. But, alas, they made it into their dome. 

Which sat at our table. 

Where we eat.

The ladybug larvae looked like little teeny tiny alligators. Actually, like this:

And then, per the instructions, we waited. 

And waited. 

And waited a little bit more until one afternoon in a matter of minutes several caterpillars went from cute and fuzzy little tickle worms to a group of creepy ass Sigourney-esque alien pods. 


Maybe it's me but something about this doesn't quite say, hey pull up a chair, let's have a bite to eat.

And before I knew it I had to remove them! I'm sorry, let me be more specific, I HAD TO CUT THE WEB OF FECES and silk that enveloped all around them. 

Damn, you Santa.

And here they are, pinned to their mesh habitat, that took up almost half the table. 

But hey Gina, how's those ladybug larvae doing over there in their swanked out super dome, you ask?

Well, they too are going through a big change. In fact, they have all assumed their spot on the inside of the dome where they will begin to shake, almost spasm if you will, turn a pale shade of white, create an outer covering and become pupas. 

Biscuits, anyone?

But why take my word for it? Here's Bella and Mia's version:

5 days passed and sure enough, look who greeted us for breakfast, our very first adult ladybug!

And about 5 days after that, I shrieked in horror at what looked to me like a blood splattered episode of Dexter. Oh no! I thought for sure I killed them somehow. 

But then I looked a little closer.

And sure enough, our first butterfly! And to my relief, after reading the instructions with a little more detail I learned that the red liquid was actually their meconium, their left-over color and unneeded tissues.


It was beautiful, actually. 

Watching through my kids eyes, I saw how really amazing the whole process was. These were their butterflies. Their ladybugs, that they fed, that they sang to, that they cared for every day. I could see the sense of responsibility and pride that Bella and Mia had. Perfect little caregivers. But of course, that all went to shit when they started fighting over who gets the butterfly with the special pretty dots and who gets to be the mom of the funniest and super fastest ladybug in the bunch. 

And that's exactly when I knew it was time.

Time to let go. Literally. 

We packed up our little friends and headed off to a local nature conservatory. The girls found the prettiest patch of flowers and actually agreed (for a change) on a new home for their ladybugs.

So long little ladybugs! Dude, it felt like I was in an episode of The Wonder Pets. 

We walked around the conservatory a bit...and they chose the butterfly garden as a perfect place to let their butterflies go. 
I grow em' smart over here :)

It was precisely at this moment when I watched Bella unzip the butterfly habitat that I got a little emotional. I can't deny it. Nothing too dramatic really, just a small realization that one day these girls of mine will be mothers too. And have to care for and feed and nurture their own children. 

What a treat that will be to watch. 

Quickly, my moment was interrupted by four fluttering butterflies overhead. Although, the last butterfly seemed to have a little separation anxiety and spent several seconds on Bella before it finally flew away.

We all watched as they took off. Mia started into her goodbyes, very loud and for a very long time. I swear those butterflies were already in Wisconsin by the time she was done. 

What an adventure.

"If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies."

Author Unknown

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