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Every now and then, at the break of dawn, I find small snails, millipedes and moths on my kitchen floor. They seem exhausted by the time they are found and almost grateful when they are picked up and taken outside. I don’t know how they get in the house. I suspect my twins traffic these critters in their pockets and set them free to roam my clean floors.

Anyway, I cringe when I see them. I don’t admit this to my children because I don’t want them to grow up icked out by harmless creatures. So, when my girls tumble down the stairs for breakfast, they pick them up and set them free in the garden.

This morning Sophie spotted a millipede and ceremoniously set it on a leaf in our garden. She sensed the insect was dying and provided every creature comfort she could conceive. I coaxed Sophie inside and soon after she forgot the millipede. Such is the depth of her devotion.

An hour later, as we rushed out the door, Ryder spotted the insect, still on the leaf, possibly dead. Funny how his first instinct was to smash it with his shoe. We collectively gasped. I asked Ryder to apologize to the insect as Maya intuitively accused him of killing insects out of fear. (Some people run when they are afraid, others face fear and destroy it.)

I never let my kids pull a flower without first asking its permission.  Also, they never touch an insect without asking its permission. I’d like to think these small rituals have planted the seeds of future nature lovers. Despite the eye rolling, B tolerates it. At heart, he is an environmentalist.

So, as Ryder knelt beside the crushed insect in apparent contrition, his sisters looked on as if he were a psychopath. His remorse: non-existent.

Except for one notable exception, we might be raising tree huggers.

June 30, 2010

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