A month ago, as I was walking her home from a playdate, Hannah said to me, “Mom? When are we going to move?” And I said, “um? Never? … I mean, dad and I are very happy in our current house. We’d like to stay there for as long as possible.”
Hannah said, “but you said that you would come live in a castle with me when I’m grown up and I’m being a knight so that you can be the Queen of my castle!”
“Ohhhhh,” I said, “Yes, that. Okay, well, when we’re ready to get a castle, then we’ll figure out moving.”
“Why can’t we get a castle now?” she asked me.
“Castles are very expensive,” I told her. “We wouldn’t be able to afford a castle now.”
“But mom,” she said, “you know we could always just build our own castle.”
So yeah, that’s how that conversation went.
This Wednesday was the last day of school for the year. I picked Hannah up at lunch (kindergarten, half-days this year) and walked her home and she decided to stay and play outside.
A little bit later, she came holding one hand cupped closed and saying, “I decided to come in because I can’t play with just one hand.” She might have told me that she’s scraped one hand, so I didn’t say anything really. But then I was helping her get her shoes off and she kept holding her hand funny and I said, “what’s in your hand, Hannah?”
“Nothing,” she told me.
“Honey,” I said, “you know you can’t bring caterpillars in the house.”
A stream of opposition poured forth from her, “but he’s my best friend, mom he’s so hungry, I’m just feeding him some leaves, mom pleeeeeeeeease.”
I reiterated everything we’ve gone over lately about keeping things in captivity, about it being better for outside animals to be outside. I went and got her a container, and said she could put the caterpillar in it to watch him for a bit and see if he would take the leaves, but that she would have to take him back outside right away.
We had a lunch date with a friend that afternoon, so within twenty minutes I had received a text from my friend and was whisking Hannah off to this lunch date – caterpillar safely in an air-vented container on the table. Hannah stared into space and whispered to herself, “so cute.” And then she spotted me watching her, got some shifty eyes and said, “Um, when I said ‘so cute’, I meant the cat …and the caterpillars.” Then more shifty eyes and, “Um, when I said caterpillars I meant…. that… there might be another caterpillar that is lost in the house.”
“Well I put him in my back-pack to bring him home from school, but now he’s not there.”
I said, “Oh my god, Hannah. In your back-pack he could get squished by your books and your pretzel container.” And she said, “no, there was no body. I looked.” So I looked and concluded also that there was no body, and that I was way cooler with the idea of a caterpillar lost in the house than dead in her back-pack. And we went off to lunch.
As we drove, she said, “When I grow up, I’m going to keep as many caterpillars as I want at my house.”
I said, “for sure you can do that. You’ll be able to make the rules in your house.”
“Yep, when M– and I have our own castle, we’ll both get to keep caterpillars.”
I’d heard a lot of talk about M– this year, so I politely asked, “are you guys going to have a castle together because you’re still planning on getting married?”
She said, “yep.”
And I said, “that will be nice. And are you going to be knights and princesses in your castle? Or are you going to be the king and queen of your own castle now?”
It took a little while for her to answer me. And then she said, “Mom, we’re going to be the King and Queen of our own castle because I’ve decided it’s better to make the orders than to do the orders.”
So it looks like I’m off the hook for moving into that castle, or for raising wild caterpillars.