Earlier in the day, the three of us went for a walk to get the mail and then to the little mom and pop corner store for some treats. As I ran around gathering what was needed for the journey, Landry ran out to the dirt path not far from our door, Ryli on his heels for a change. A few minutes later, I heard the excited cries and gave up my hunt for the elusive mailbox keys.
As I stepped through the door, Landry greeted me with one of his bigger and cheesier smiles and proudly proclaimed that he had found an earthworm. He proudly held out his hand, with the earthworm squirming around his palm. Ryli came up, and she asked to hold it. At that point, I momentarily got nervous that she would get her hands on it and declare it was disgusting and toss it. She didn't.
My mind was instantly transported to when I was her age, roughly 35 years ago. Life on the acreage out in the middle of nowhere, where I would collect toads, garter snakes, and other creepy-crawlies. The days before kindergarten, when all of the sudden, playing with those little creatures was taboo, at least for the girls.
I was jolted back to reality when they both started telling me all these facts about earthworms that they'd gotten from Wild Kratts, The Magic School Bus, and the like. They asked if they could keep her, naturally, and I told them that she would be far happier outside where she could continue to make dirt. They agreed, and put her back on the walk. Ryli covered her up with some dirt so no birds would get her. Then, we found my keys and went about our business.
On our way home, they saw our neighbor, Andy, out walking his dogs. They wanted to show him their worm, so I said yes, doubting that they could find it again. My doubt faded as Ryli turned the corner from our courtyard absolutely beaming, her hands cupped together. Landry and Ryli showed her to Andy and bombarded him with much of the same that they had me. Andy and his roommate Cathy happen to have a compost heap outside their apartment, so he offered to take the worm with him, giving her all the food she could eat, relative safety from birds, and lots of friends. The kids said their goodbyes, and we parted ways.
As we walked into our townhouse, the kids once again pelted me with questions about worms and if they could go out and dig for more. I answered everything as best I could and promising that after dark, I would take them out to look for more.
I can wait for kindergarten. I don't want Ryli to feel like to be a girl, she can't go dig in the dirt and find worms, or fear frogs and toads. Snakes I will educate her on, because unlike Iowa, there are poisonous ones here in Texas, but if she wants to pick up a non-venomous snake, I want her to. If she wants to grow up and be whatever her little heart desires, whether it's girly or not.