This afternoon, my girls begged me to take them outside to see a dead worm. It had shriveled up and died on the driveway, turned into a blackened “C.” They were fascinated by it and wanted to see it again, so that they could repeatedly ask if they could touch it, only to refuse to do so once I’d granted them permission. I’ve learned by now that the best way to keep kids from doing something is to tell them it’s okay to do it. There’s no challenge in that, so they soon lose interest.
Instead, they decided to poke the dead worm with a couple of sticks. When that got old, they hit it with the sticks until it was smashed into smithereens. Then they took turns asking me what had happened to their worm. I pointed to the flecks of black dust scattered around and told them that used to be the worm. Then the game was finding all of those specks of worm-dust.
It’s really amazing how entertained two kids can be by the simplest of activities. Investigating something, destroying it, then trying to recognize the original thing in the wreckage left behind. It’s the same thing they do with their Legos, or with food, or with a container of eyeshadow I didn’t even know I had (we’re still cleaning the “investigation” of that one from the bathroom cabinets). I like watching their scientific minds blossom, and can appreciate that things need to get a little messy in the process. Although, I do think we’ll limit the dead animal explorations to dehydrated worms, and I’ll try harder to hide forgotten make-up from burgeoning artists.