Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Choosing the Hard Thing
My son begged to get a “grow-your-own sea creatures” kit from his school book order. The tiny creatures are called triops, and they are some kind of tiny shrimp that date to prehistoric times. The thing is, they live only about 2 weeks. So my first reaction was NO WAY. Not only do we already have 5 pets in the house, but adding another batch that were likely to live only 2 weeks was to my mind not at all worth the fuss. Why would we want to go through that?
Well, my son’s enthusiasm and love for science won out and he convinced me to let him spend his money on this kit. “You know they only live 2 weeks, right?” I asked, checking that he understood what he was getting into. “Yes,” he said simply. “But Mom,” he said with shining eyes, “when else do you get the chance to see an actual, living prehistoric creature?!” The tiny creatures hatched and to my horror, my son began to name them. His attachment was deep and instant and I could see already how this would end … badly. Soon, the largest one had eaten all his siblings. He darted quickly around the tank, so he was named “Missile.” Jon checked on him every day, talked to him, fed him, and even made drawings and wrote observations on his behaviors like a true scientist.
Then, true to all advertised info, the little guy died after 2 1/2 weeks. Jon was sad. Very sad. But he talked about how much he learned, how beautiful Missile was, and how much he would love to do it again.
As a mom, I wanted to spare him the pain of death; I wanted to keep things stable and happy, which for me seemed a greater good. But as a child, he taught me how much I miss, how much it’s totally worth it to do the hard thing even if our hearts twist and our hands shake as we do it, because prehistoric creatures are so cool and even though you cry when they die it’s worth it because you got to SEE them!
Thank God for so much beauty and for the heart of child ready to risk pain in order to see it.