Saturday, March 11, 2017

To Know a Ladybug

Standing in the backyard, soaking in rays of golden sunshine and contemplating landscape design, a small flash of red against the white and gray gravel caught my eye. There, fluttering among the delicate green blades of grass that insist on growing where I don't want them, was a tiny red ladybug.

Instantly my mind traveled all the way back to when I was in first grade. I don't remember if it was for Mother's Day or some other occasion, but my teacher one day had us make ladybug magnets. I believe all the kids really got to do was paint black dots on the "wings" of an already-painted wood ladybug. I was excited anyway because if there was anything I knew it was ladybugs. There were always copious amounts of them to be found in my front yard. I would delight in the tickle of their minuscule legs as they scurried across my bare arms and legs. Small margarine containers filled considerately with grass and with lids carefully punched with air holes became their temporary homes, cradled in my loving, child hands. 

When it came my turn to paint, I carried images of these fascinating creatures with me. I knew exactly how I was going to make mine; I would scatter tiny black dots randomly across the bright red wings. Happily I picked up my paintbrush and began to bring my vision to life.

It soon became clear, however, that my vision of a ladybug didn't match the vision of the adults in the room.

The project instructions were to paint three circles vertically on each wing, with the center circle slightly larger than the other two. Even though I had painted what I knew to be true, I had done it wrong. 

My days of warm sun, scratchy green blades of grass, and the gathering of ladybugs gradually slipped away, and over time I began to doubt myself.  Maybe they had been right. Maybe real ladybugs didn't match the vision I had held in my mind.

Today, standing in my backyard, almost 44 years later, bathed in warmth and with the mile-long to-do list temporarily forgotten, it suddenly occurred to me.

I want to know ladybugs again.

8 comments:

  1. Beautiful post. Loved this line - "Small margarine containers filled considerately with grass and with lids carefully punched with air holes became their temporary homes, cradled in my loving, child hands." Using the words "child hands" lifts the level of that line and for the piece. I'm disappointed in the criticism you felt from the adults in charge, as I'm certain your mom treasured that gift. Great ending as well. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It ended up being a good thing, I guess, since now as a teacher I allow my students room to be creative. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. :)

      Delete
  2. How sad it made me to read that the adults tried to tell you how to do something that you so vividly pictured in your mind. If there is one thing I do with my kindergartners it's let them have the imagination and creativeness. It pains me to teach the "true colors" unit of my writing program because at the age of 5 they want to explore with colors and I want so badly to let them express themselves as they wish. I let them do it as often and as much I can and to see their smiles when they show me their beautiful drawings makes me so glad that I give them that opportunity. Thank you for sharing and for reminding me that imagination and individually is so so important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your experiences as a kindergarten teacher. I am happy to know that there are teachers like you that allow these young minds to express themselves.

      Delete
  3. Love, love, love this slice. Reminds me of being young and a great reminder for us adults to let kids create!

    ReplyDelete
  4. This is a lovely post. It is sad the way the adults of the world "correct" the experience of our little learners. Thank you for this reminder...maybe it will help us remember to pause and allow those little learners to know what they know.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Krista! I don't remember a lot of my childhood experiences, but this is one that stands out vividly for me. Sad that a crushing experience is what I remember best. I try to keep this in mind as I work with my own students.

      Delete