Coaxing the kids through the back yard and into the car last week, I stepped on an ant. L stopped and crouched down while I was busy wrangling J and the ancillary "kid stuff" that seems to accompany us everywhere these days.
"Mama, why did you step on the ant?"
"uh, well, sweetie, I guess I just wasn't paying attention to where I was walking."
"But you squished it. It's not moving."
"Well, honey, I must have killed it. " I said sheepishly. "I'm so sorry." And I was. (Honestly, I really do usually try to avoid stepping on them.)
She gingerly picked it up and carried it to the car. I opened her door and she climbed in and set the ant ever-so-carefully into the cup holder of her booster seat. The girl was sad. I think it might be the first time L has seen something go from living to dead. I think she saw the finality of it: the ant was walking along, I stepped on it, and then it was dead.
We drove and drove, L asking over and over "Why did you step on the ant?" And me just repeating the same ol' thing, over and over. "I made a mistake. I'm sorry."
We've been in the car about a dozen times since this happened. The ant is still in her cup holder.