My sister had a pair of mallards in her yard yesterday, looking for a possible nesting place or maybe just getting to know each other. And along with the ducks came a child, and then more children until she soon had a small playground full- all wanting to touch the ducks. All wanting to be closer, or to make them move or to throw grass at them in the hopes they would eat. Something that makes them more a part of the experience. She sat on the porch as duck guard to make sure the children did not get overly enthusiastic.
Spring is a fertile season on many levels. Little ones will be out in force in the form of ducklings, puppies, fawns, baby birds and there will be a little army of our own little ones; very curious children to follow them. Spring is also a fertile time for teaching our children to respect all life. And while my first reaction is to scream, ‘Quite chasing the ducks!’ there is a better way to help children cultivate their passion rather than squash it. Even though part of me is naughty and wants to do some yelling….
I did the same thing when I was their age. I was fascinated by any animal and the wild ones were even better being that you seldom got to see them up close. There was that time in our cabin on a Christmas Eve when we had a flying squirrel in our Christmas tree. Poor thing was scared out her little mind as she glided here and there about the cabin, finally perching on the screen of a window. (We had plastic on the outside since my parents were not quite able to afford glass windows.) But I didn’t think about how frightened she was, all I could think of was getting really close because it was a flying squirrel, which to me meant she had wings…and I REALLY wanted to see that! Naturally my parents said all the usual things in a quiet but knowing manner, ‘Don’t get to close.’ ‘Leave it be, she’s scared.’ But I HAD to see those wings! So closer and closer I positioned myself when suddenly she had had enough and glided to my feet, then scurried right up my nightgown! Let me tell you I did quite the little dance…and I can still feel those tiny feet when I think about it.
It did give me a new found respect for personal space, mine and theirs’.
If we can help a child see and experience wildlife or any animal, in a way that keeps their passion intact, by educating them, by showing them how they might feel if they were in the animals position, by taking the time to demonstrate by example, that we can see them in their nature lives if we keep still and respect their personal space rather than yelling, (like I sometimes want to do), think how much more enlightened the next generation will be. And if a child is thinking about how an animal feels in a particular situation, at some point they will begin to do the same with people they encounter.
What a wonderful gift to give the world. A child that CHOSES to do no harm to another living creature not because their parents say it is wrong but because they have discovered empathy.