Did you read the short post I published a couple of days ago about how Robert rescued a grasshopper? I told Sullivan if we didn’t let go of his new pet Hopsters, it would die in the jar. He understood this and agreed that after he went to bed, I would let him go. So, two nights ago, I took the lid off the jar and set it outside.
But, when Sully got up the next morning, he was very upset that his grasshopper was gone.
Thankfully, Robert found Hopsters outside still in the jar! Sully was so happy, but again, we tried to tell him that we needed to let the little guy go. I offered to take some special pictures of Hopsters. He could have them to remember him by, but this just made everything worse.
Teaching Kids About Life and Death
So, would I let Sullivan keep the grasshopper in the jar knowing it will probably die sooner than if we let him go? When we find him lifeless in the jar, there will be more tears to endure, but maybe it’s OK. Sully will learn about the consequences of keeping pets in jars — God’s little creature held hostage for our own desires. Or maybe he’ll learn about the cycle of life and how death is always a part of it. He’ll learn about loving something and losing it.
All of these are important lessons, right? The second option: Would I force him to let it go? Would I be a stern, cold-hearted, responsible mother and hold the jar upside down and release Hopsters into the city wild? He could hop around our little urban garden until he meets his fate. Sully’s grown these stalks of corn all summer, and it’s his corn that brought the grasshopper to us. Would I ever be able to remember what it was like to be a child and love a bug? When does this get beaten out of us anyway? What would you do?
One of my favorite bloggers, Penelope Trunk wrote about this keeping and letting go in a post about her son and his goat, Samuel. One day they take Samuel to an auction to sell him. After he’s sold, the boy wants the goat back. In a harrowing, magnanimous moment of pure motherhood, Trunk retrieves the already-sold goat for her son.
As I held my Nikon and snapped pictures of Sullivan telling Hopsters goodbye, it became quite apparent that it would be crueler to let him go than to keep him. Cruel to force the Sullivan to surrender a bug he thinks his father saved from drowning. In that life-saving moment, he became bonded with an insect. He became its protector. Looking up at me through tears, he said, “If I let him go, a bird will eat him!”
Generations of Mason Jars and Glad Wrap
So here is what I did. I went into the house and got some Glad wrap and I put a piece over the top of the jar and poked holes in it. The kids were so giddy. They thought I was a genius. Children are so precious. And, I had to wonder. How many generations have been made happy in summer by mason jars and plastic wrap? They should team up for an advertising campaign.
Later that morning, Hopsters accompanied us on the drive to a horse camp to watch Juliette ride. He and his jar sat right there in the arena with us. Hopsters had no comment on the horses, but I noticed he salivated as we drove past fields of corn.
Brothers, Sisters and Grasshoppers: They have a history of this kind of thing.
Last night, Bridgette was thirsty and asked me to get her a drink of water. Every single dish in the house was dirty so I reached in the cabinet and pulled out another mason jar. “I am not drinking out of a cricket box,” she said.
Finally, there is one more thing we’re going to do. We’re going to learn more about collecting bugs and keeping pets in jars so we can do it right. I’m on the hunt for a copy of the 1979, Pets In A Jar by the dean of children’s science writers, Seymour Simon. Simon has an active blog and he’s invited kids to send him pictures and videos of plants and animals they’ve seen this summer. We’re sending him a picture of Hopsters.
Have you ever kept pets in a jar? What would you do?