April 13, 2011 at 6:00 am
Tell me, dear girl, how you can pick up a worm and cradle it in your hand .. pet it, kiss it … but then a spider falls into the bathtub later that day and you scream so loud the glass doors shake, and you jump out of the tub and drip water over the entire first floor of our house as you run around dragging a towel cursing the tiny pin-point-size bugger for ever being born.
My daughter is having a love affair with worms. This is unexpected, not because she is a girl (sugar and spice and puppy-dog tails or something), but because she is not a fan of most bugs.
She worries a bit about wasps and bees, and when she looks at the spot last fall where a spider the size of a car made his home, she visibly shudders.
I understand. But then there are the worms, and caterpillars and roly-polys. Granted, they have a lot more going for them. The caterpillars even seem cuddly … but they are not her favorite.
Her favorites reside in a worm-farm made from a mason jar. She tries so very hard to follow the directions to only feed them once every few weeks and to keep them in a cool, dark place, but she wants to see them, to touch them, to care for them, like a little protective mother hen except, of course, that a mother hen would eat them without even thinking about it.
We had to make a sweater for the worm farm (it’s just the sleeve of an old sweater), but she wanted so much to be able to keep them upstairs, where she could check on them, 14, 15, 31 times a day, so we created the sweater which she insisted on lovingly cutting with a pair of shears big enough to snip off a sailor’s arm.
“Can I help you, sweetie?” I asked, barely hiding the anxiety. How do you explain to the doctor that your daughter chopped off an appendage while caring for her worms — that doesn’t sound good.
“Your daughter has worms too?” I feel like that’s the part they would focus on.
And so we switched to smaller scissors, and she chopped and hacked until they had a purple sweater.
She keeps adding worms to the worm farm, mamas and papas and baaaaaabies. There have to be at least 10 in there now. What is the maximum capacity for a worm farm? At what point does it become like an elevator and everyone starts getting nervous looking at each other, thinking that the giant nightcrawler really must be the first to go.
The directions said that the worm farm was an ideal eco-system, and I believe it could be, if it wasn’t for all the poking.
She takes that little finger and gently pokes it inside. I’m sure the poor practically blind worms think every time, “Here comes another one,” and they move just slightly to the left, trying to be accommodating but really, I imagine they feel momentarily put-upon and wish they had arms to cross or a foot to tap.
But then they probably hear this little voice singing to them, telling them she loves them, and probably all is forgiven.
Worms have five hearts.
But even five hearts could not imagine the love this little girl has for her jar of worms.
Ellery’s teacher at our homeschool co-op helped each of the students in their gardening class make worm farms. They filled a mason jar about 1/3 of the way through with sand, and then added soil. Each child was given three worms.
The jar lid has three holes in the top, and the jar should be kept in a cool, dark place. They need to be fed every few weeks — things like coffee grounds, banana peels, apple cores and newspaper.
Apparently they need very little care or attention, but don’t tell Ellery that.