When a good friend was at our house the other day, she noticed the framed collections of insects on the foyer walls. They tend to be a conversation piece, in any country that we travel. Her 1st grade class was learning about insects, so I suggested she borrow them to show her class, along with some coffee table books on insects, beetles and butterflies that we had. The delicateness of the collections worried her, so she suggested I come into her class one day and talk to the kids. Would I?
I do not profess to be a "kid person". Yes, I have kids, but I am not the teacher type. Even though I've spoken to schools on behalf of the embassy several times, I always labor over how I'll come across, if I'll be fun, if I'll keep their attention. This excursion would be no different.
So I brushed up on my insect trivia here. I put the link on my phone... in case I got into a funk during the presentation. I told silly bug jokes, wore the girls' monarch wings, my Maltese honey bee coin earrings and donned a spider necklace from years gone by (thanks Uncle Brian!).
Low and behold... it was the childhood stories that captivated them. They loved hearing about picking june bug mud balls from the rabbit poo under cages, letting baby praying mantis crawl all over myself in the fresh grass, flashlight hunting for cicadas up tree trunks at night (only to watch them hatch in a wire cage overnight and release them in the morning), search for fishing bait and dig up moth larvae in the vegetable garden. Their favorite story was when I told them about how our parents taught us to catch June bugs, gently tie a thread to one leg and fly them around the yard all day. We'd delicately tie them to a porch post overnight, fly them a second day and then lovingly let them go.
After talking to the adults in the room, they said how the childhood stories just exuded joy, exuded love and fond memories. It's true (...as you can see from the crazy look on my face while speaking!). Our childhood was an era of discovery, a foundation for a lifetime love of nature. Priceless.
One friend's child came home and exclaimed, "Did you know Ceiba's mama ONLY had bugs to play with when she was little?!".
I loved hearing that he enjoyed the presentation... though I did have a few things other than bugs as a kid.
I told the kids about at the botanical gardens, they feed rotten bananas to the butterflies. I happened to make fresh banana bread for them to try after the presentation. Most of them tried and loved the bread, and a handful of little girls were hugged around my waist at recess after the talk. I'd call that a success!
Did you know monarch butterflies migrate over 3000 miles, sometimes over 200 miles per day? Did you know cockroaches can live up to 3 weeks without a head? Night butterflies have ears on their wings? Honeybees have hair on their eyes? The only insect that can turn its head is a ..... praying mantis? Only male crickets can chirp? A mayfly only lives 8 hours?