The joy of finding a lady bird is a very simple one, and was one enjoyed by my daughter this morning. A year ago she might not have so willingly held it, as she has always been a little unsure of bugs. This morning, however, she asked for it to go on her hand and after a little conversation about how careful she must be with it, I obliged.
She gently giggled at the tickling sensation, and gazed adoringly at the lady bird, before long, skipping off to find it some flowers to play on (still lovingly held in her hands.)
Here started the natural inquisitions of a five year old, and the subsequent lessons learnt. We chatted about whether it was a boy or a girl, after coming to the conclusion that we will never know as you can’t tell the difference (in her simple words) she decided hers was a girl. Males are hereby known as ‘gentlemanbirds.’
On she went, letting her ladybird crawl round the flowers she had picked for it, openly declaring that they were friends and would be together forever. I quietly continued with my work preparing some earth for her fairy garden, (article to follow.)
After a while she decided to put the ladybird down, so we found it a nice leaf for it to sit on. She ummed and ahhed and I eventually left her reunited with her friend, only to soon discover her frantically searching and calling for it.
After another discussion with me about what ladybirds eat (what aphids are, whether they are good for the garden, if it will eat leaves and flowers etc) she had put the ladybird down and gone off to find it something to eat. On her return, she found that the her friend had abandoned her and run away. She was devastated and despite my attempt to comfort her, she felt utterly betrayed. ‘But I thought we were friends, that we would always be friends, but it wasn’t my friend, it left me!’ she sobbed into my arms. I let her mourn the loss of her little friend and she soon perked up, only to discover that the ladybird was simply hiding a few leaves down – reunited once more!
I seized my opportunity to talk to her about whether the ladybird was in fact hers, or whether it wanted to be wild and free. Luckily we have a fantastic book about this exact issue (see below) so I referred to that and after a little chat she seemed to accept that her little friend was in fact a wild animal and would be much happier remaining that way.
Another string of questions ensued about how ladybirds have babies, I admitted my ignorance on the issue but we agreed that somehow baby ladybirds are born and she decided that hers was, in fact, a baby.
Not long after, the ladybird was to leave for a final time but this time, the loss was manageable. She lovingly laid a trail of leaves near where she had last seen it, in case it got hungry, happily declaring that it was probably going to live in our garden for ever and maybe even have more babies.
The whole experience cannot have lasted much longer that 10 minutes but I get the feeling a lot was learnt in that short time, I also feel the lessons learnt will last for some time!