Wednesday, February 13, 2013

101 things ready for anything!

Our plan the other day was derailed by this little surprise L discovered while we were walking under some trees. A frozen squirrel! Right there on the ground!! Now, I do recognize that this sort of thing, happening upon a frozen dead animal, might make some squeamish people, well...squeam. But for those of you who can set the heebie jeebies aside, finding a dead animal can really be a treat. (yes, you read that right.)We got to take a nice, close-up look at the squirrel. The kids each held it, curious about how heavy it was and its "actual size" (in J's words). L and J wondered matter-of-factly about how it died, so we spent a long time looking around the area for clues, and how it happened to be right there in the grassy parkway by the side of the road. Some ideas the children had: it was attacked by a dog or an owl and died. (they dismissed this idea, due to no blood and the fact that the squirrel was perfectly intact) Maybe it got hit by a car and crawled to the grass before dying. Maybe it fell out of a tree. Maybe it froze to death and fell out of the tree. They expressed sadness and some concern, but their curiosity overtook their other emotions. Whatever the case, finding this dead squirrel ignited a really long conversation and a fun bit of "secret agent" work as we looked for clues around the area and speculated as to the cause of the squirrel's demise. It also afforded the children an opportunity to have a close-up look at an animal they are very familiar with, but never see at close range. And it also helped to demistify the idea of death. Since I wasn't freaked out and didn't try to hide the dead squirrel from them, they were free to approach it and look at it and ask their questions without shame, judgment, or fear. At no point did they seem afraid or even upset by the squirrel. Rather, they were fascinated and excited about the opportunity to examine it. I wanted them to feel free to make observations and ask any questions they had. What a rare opportunity it afforded us. I am grateful that we found it and humbled by their respect and tenderness toward the squirrel.

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