Friday, May 16, 2014

The Lifecycle of a Boy

It seems like it takes forever for spring to get here, but when it does the wonders never cease. I feel the same way about our little boy. He was a baby a long time and then in an instant it was gone. In many ways I long for that time again, but I remember it as turbulent as pleasant. Spring can be like that.

Today I was often reminded that even though our guy is approaching his last year in single digit numbers in age, I will look back on this too wistfully at some point wanting that season to last longer. Instead, he is fascinated by the reproduction cycle at the moment: humans, birds, bugs, and plants. It reminds me that those fascinations will pull on him at some point drawing him into a whole new budding world.

Last night in the pool’s locker room my husband heard him lecture on the human life cycle how we all begin as an egg meets sperm deal. He asks such startling questions like, “Mama, why did you want your egg fertilized by Papa in 2004?” I have become accustomed to most of these questions asked in a nonchalant manner, but it does startle strangers to hear our conversations out in public. His voice is very loud and carries far---I am used to it, but others turn in mild curiosity at the boy with the loud questions about the human life cycle specifically his birth cycle. Last night my husband came out of the locker room laughing as he said our boy went all the way in his description of the life cycle as to include being dead, buried, and turning into fertilizer for the plants. I'm sure the men in the locker room were thinking what kind of kid is this?

This fascination has happened every spring with him for a couple of years. It begins with the butterflies arriving in his classroom and the cycle of the butterfly. Then he gets out his ladybug book to check on that life cycle too comparing the similarities. Then the loud spring birds remind him, along with Easter, about eggs. This brings us to eggs outside the body, his favorite to track are chicken eggs. Coming back to those inside the body that come out---bugs. And then babies, usually beginning with pigs and sheep or kittens, which eventually ends with comparing them to humans.

This year instead of rushing through all of those things a week at a time, they are all mentioned at some point throughout any given day. The main lecture on humans and then picking one side focus. This week since the butterflies in his classroom have hatched, it is all about the butterflies and ladybugs. Today, he had a day off from school, so I picked up some ladybugs with him at the garden store to be released at sunset to our garden. I took pictures as he pontificated on the life cycle of the lady bug.

“Mama there are 1500 lady bugs in that bag there. You water the plant with aphids so they have a drink of water after they are released.”

Here hold this while I cut the bag,” I say to him. He grins and holds it making his excited groaning noises. I take the bag from him and cut carefully as the little buggers are just waking from their slumber. We took them out of the refrigerator a few minutes earlier and they are sluggish still. I release the bugs. They are so beautiful as they struggle out of their sterile white mesh home and into the world. I decide to grab my camera from the house to take pictures.

“That is a good idea Mama, to take pictures of the ladybug release!” He jumps around some more and follows me into the house for a moment.

“Mama, do you think any of them will be on top of one another mating?” this thought sends him into running excited circles.

“Well, I don’t know. I would think they might be hungry just after waking up, but you never know.” We head back out to the waiting bag.

“Mama, look…l….l…look at all the ladybugs. They will eat the aphids on your roses and get fat. They will get on top of each other and then about a week later they will find a leaf and deposit eggs. Then those eggs will hatch and we will have thousands of ladybugs in our yard. Do you see any of them mating?”

I look carefully through the lens contemplating this question seriously. “Oh, look those two aren’t just crawling through the group. They have crawled off and yep, seem to be on top of one another.”

His eyes are shining now, “There will be baby ladybugs soon!”

“Maybe,” I say while I keep snapping pictures.

We watch for a while and he launches in from ladybugs to his own birth asking particulars. The light is fading quickly. I tell him we’d better depart while we can still see to step over the pile of bugs and not squish any. That thought horrifies him, but I reassure him that I promise not to harm any ladybugs in the making of these pictures.

We spent the rest of the evening picking out our favorites of the pictures (posted here). Surmising what we might find in the morning----if indeed the bag would be empty. And how many babies there might be.

He reminded me that they could fly away. "They have wings Mama, and might fly away after the aphids are gone or it gets too cold." I felt sad thinking about if our little garden couldn't provide enough for these tiny travelers. I felt sad thinking about my little guy and if he'd fly away some day or not---where would those wings take him? Just to the fence and back or beyond? Would what we have keep him content or would the call of spring make him take wing to another adventure? 

Ladybird, ladybird,
Fly away home,
Your house is on fire,
And your children all gone;
All except one
And that’s little Ann,
And she has crept under
The warming pan.