Noticing the small things

Yesterday I used a ladybug to bribe my kids.

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Dragonfly, hanging around.

It happened to be hanging around our hallway, so I told the kids they had to hurry and get dressed if they wanted to see it. They’re fascinated by ladybugs, possibly because of these books, or maybe because of “A Bug’s Life.” (Denis Leary made a great ladybug.) The bribe worked – they hustled to get ready – and then I brought the bug out to my garden, where, I hope, it will eat whatever’s eating my broccoli plants.

I’m happy to be kind to bugs (at least some bugs) if it means teaching the kids to appreciate nature. The dragonfly clinging to the wall outside our vacation resort, for instance. My daughter and I watched it for a few minutes, admiring its iridescent body, while I reminded her not to get too close and scare it.

Looking up at gorgeous scenery is easy. Looking down at a dragonfly – that takes practice.

And standing still long enough to attract a butterfly to your hand?

Feeding butterflies at the 4-H fair.

Feeding butterflies at the 4-H fair.

That takes patience. A lot of patience.

But once you know how to notice the little things, you’re a more observant person, and more able to appreciate what you see around you. At least that’s my theory. Certainly studying the little details makes you a better writer.

I had to drag the kids into the butterfly-feeding area at our county 4-H fair this past weekend, because it wasn’t a roller coaster or a Scramble, and they couldn’t win any stuffed animals in it. But as soon as we walked in, they loved it, peering down at the monarchs on their outstretched hands, holding their nectar sticks out for the next one.

I hope they always know how to look closely at a thing, even a little thing, and admire the details. And I hope I do, too.

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Butterfly selfie!

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2 thoughts on “Noticing the small things

  1. I do this with my kids too… to a fault, almost. I’ll be having a serious conversation with my eldest (5) and suddenly notice a butterfly and point it out. I think it’s really important to take notice of small things and appreciate them to put everything in perspective.

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