Last Friday, we attended a presentation on owls by a local Rehabilitation Center. The boys got to see four live owls and hear about the four common owls in Virginia. A couple of friends were there with kids as well, and afterwards we chatted as most of the kids ran around in the grass. The youngest child in the group sat in her stroller and giggled.
The peace was broken when my friend's daughter announced that G had killed a frog. I froze. Usually, I can discern how much a scene I should cause with discipline, but this was either something to let go or go really crazy about. I mean, I thought I'd heard once that serial killers often killed small animals early on in their lives. Where do frogs fit on the killing spectrum? Are they closer to the kitten end or are they way on the spiders and creepy-crawlies end? We regularly crush bugs at our house. Did I need to contact a therapist? All this decision making with a ticking clock that was counting off the seconds between the action and appropriate response.
The girl bent down, prodded the stretched-out frog, and deemed him dead. He looked splat to me, too. Then she carefully covered it with grass clippings to bury it. One of her nearby friends watched, as did a laughing G, who was chanting, "I killed it!"
So how did I handle it? I asked my friend with the baby and her mother-in-law, since they were standing there. None of us had a clue. So I called G to me, took him by the hand, and had him show me what he did. Then I put on the sad face and noted how little the frog was, and how much he might have been a little baby. I wondered if his parents would be looking for him. G was not empathetic at all. Then I suggested that some frogs stay small, that this one might have been a Daddy Frog, and that his baby and the rest of the family might wonder where he was when he never came home.
G looked a teeny tiny bit shaken and he squeezed my hand a little. Very softly, I told him, "We don't kill frogs, Buddy. They eat the bugs."
G watched the funeral. Then a few moments later--Hallelujah!--the frog broke free from the clippings and hopped into the grass nearby. G ran to tell me, and declared that the frog must have been playing dead. Three minutes later, the kids were screaming again: the funeral director's little brother had stepped on and squished the frog.