“Do you like butterflies,” asks Bear as we drive to see Entangled at the matinee. I could wonder why she was thinking of butterflies on the coldest day of the year so far, but nothing she asks surprises me anymore. We’ve lived together eleven years, and she doesn’t talk as much as the others do, but when she does, it’s always interesting.
“What do you mean?” I ask, “Real butterflies, or . . . .” I start to say metaphorical, but unsure whether she’d know what I mean, I pause, and she interrupts my thoughts.
“Real,” she says, tilting her head, “What other kind are there?”
Suddenly, I envision a Victorian butterfly display, all pinned down beauty, and I give a shudder.
“You don’t like them?” She seems shocked, and of course, she would. I’m a gardener after all, and I write about butterflies and other creatures for a living.
“No, I mean, yes, I do, in the garden. You know, when they flit about here and there.” I start to tell her about how the Victorians used to catch them, and not having cameras, they . . . .
“I don’t,” she exclaims, “I don’t like their bodies, or their eyes. They creep me out.”
“What about their colorful wings? Don’t you like to watch them fly?”
She shakes her head. “Nope, but I like caterpillars.” A giggle. “Remember when our friends came over, and you took pictures of the girls touching the caterpillars?” She wiggles her fingers above her head. “The caterpillars kept pushing out their antennae, and you had to tell her to stop because you were afraid she’d wear out the caterpillar.”
“I remember. Those were Swallowtails. They were on the dill.”
“Dill?” she says, “Oh the plant . . . for a minute I thought you meant pickles.” Again, she laughs. “Caterpillars on pickles.”
“No, the plant, but you use it to make dill pickles.”
“Really?” Her eyes widen, and I realize she never connected the herb with her favorite pickles. For a moment, absorbed by this information, she is silent as though cataloging it.
I nod. “You know butterflies are different things to different people right?”
She looks perplexed. “What do you mean?”
“Well, some people use them as symbols for . . . .”
“Yes, and metamorphosis . . . .”
“Ah, because they change.”
“Yes, Al Anon uses them to symbolize a change within. Religions do too sometimes.”
“Resurrection,” she smiles, nodding, “Hmmm . . . , I still don’t like them, but I do like ladybugs,” she says.
“Well, who doesn’t like ladybugs? Even their little lions are super cute.”
“Yeah, when people know what they are and don’t squish them.”
And so it goes.
Just another day with my baby who’s almost twelve. One day, we won’t be having conversations like these. So, like silky pearls, I hold onto them, reveling in their beauty. Then, I place them in a mental pocket of my favorite things to later ponder. One day, when Bear is all grown up and has babies of her own, I’ll tell them about their mommy.
Who was once just a little girl who didn’t like butterflies, but did love caterpillars, and the conversation will go on.
What a lovely post, Dee! Hold on to these precious memories–they do grow up so fast.
What a memorable conversation Dee. You should print this post so you can show it to her when she’s grown. 🙂
Hi, Dee–Good that you know it’s important to cherish these conversations with our daughters. For yes, they are fleeting precious moments. Thankfully I find the conversations just get more amazing as the years progress, so you have a lot to look forward to, too! Big hug, Mom. xoxo
Ask your daughter if she saw the SpongeBob Squarepants episode where he finds a caterpillar and thinks it’s the most wonderful thing ever, but when it turns into a butterfly he is totally repulsed.
Les, I did ask her, and she knew the exact episode you were speaking of. She explained it to me too. Thanks for the reminder. Her face lit up.
How very lucky that you wrote all this down. It is so wonderful that both of you will have the record of a conversation that could have flown away just like a butterfly. I don’t have many regrets in life, but one is that I didn’t write down more such talks. What a dear girl your Bear is.
What an endearing story. Conversations like theses are a delight and will be treasured always.
Dee, your words are sheer magic! I didn’t want the story to end. You’re right. My daughters are in their thirties. Cherish the small moments.
I am living in your “one day” and it is more wonderful than you can imagine. You are wise to record these precious conversations. They will bring such joy to both of you.
I love butterflies. Thanks for bringing back memories of my own. My girls called them flutterbys!
Sweetness indeed. I’m treasuring moments like these too but haven’t had your foresight in writing them down. Thank you for sharing yours.
Dee, I love that story. Thank you so much for sharing it, along with the beautiful photos. You are so right to savor those moments.
Nancy in Fort Worth
My Sweet Baby Bear. Love that girl.
Lisa at Greenbow
How sweet. That drive to the movie was a good bonding moment. Such treasures you gather on those drives.
How wonderful that this is written down for her to read years from now. It’s a lovely, heartwarming conversation .
Such a sweet conversation.
Mr. McGregor's Daughter
These little conversations are such treasures for both mother & daughter. Bear is a bit like the girl: she doesn’t like butterflies either. I don’t know how she feels about caterpillars.
Kathy from Cold Climate Gardening
I’m glad you got a chance to record this conversation before it slipped out of memory. We assume everyone will love butterflies and be turned off by caterpillars, but Bear turns the stereotypes on their heads.
Gardener on Sherlock Street
What a great conversation. She’s breaking down what she likes and doesn’t like. An observant young lady. That will be an asset for her whole life.
Oh such lovely pearls, Dee, they are jewels to a mother’s heart. What a thoughtful and sweet child, and what a good mother she will be someday, with you as her role model. 🙂
Dee, Tears to eyes! What a wonderful story and placing this one in your pocket to share with Bear’s children had those tears rolling down my face!
Helen Yoest @ Gardening With Confidence
Nice Dee! It is so nice to have these kinds of conversations with kids. These kinds stories point to precious ways we can communicate with our kids; it’s an added bonus when gardening precipitates the convo.
That is such a lovely moment, Dee. I think the best conversations take place in the car. Even a teenage boy will sometimes open up and share his feelings there. I’ve read that it’s because they don’t have to make eye contact in a car.
I never fails to amaze my how kid’s minds work, they are a joy.
What a lovely little story, thanks for sharing. After reading it I strongly feel we all need a Bear in our lives.
BTW I love butterflies fluttering about in the garden.