I was raised in a house where killing spiders was forbidden. Bees were caught in glasses, with a paper slid under them to transport and then release them outside. For years, I couldn't kill a fly, and felt guilty wishing mosquitos would die. Now, I have drawn a line with the creepy crawlys: you come inside my home, you will most likely end up in the toilet. I still feel guilty, but I tell myself they've been forewarned. I still think it's heartless to kill non-poisonous, non-biting insects who are outdoors, doing their thing. Which is why I was appalled yesterday as I was walking the kids back to the car after gymnastics, and Luke stomped on a big 1/2" long fat juicy black ant scurrying across the sidewalk, no hesitations. Lillian and I had just barely stepped over this ginormous ant, admiring it's size. I thought it was a good teaching experience, and a great time to encourage empathy and kindness in my rambunctious and impulsive 6 year old. For those of you who love to hunt, I did explain that if he was starving, he could kill and eat ants to his heart's content without feeling bad, even offering to go back and get it for him to eat. :)
I'm a big fan of "writing consequences." I see it as an educational form of punishment (though he wasn't exactly being "punished" this time around). So, I had Luke imagine he was that ant, going about his life before he was stepped on, and had him write me a few sentences on how he would feel if he was that ant. Yes, I know, that probably makes me crazy to many men and a quite few women out there, but that's okay! Trust me, this child needed this lesson . . . you'd thank me if you had a sweet little child in his school class with him. Here's what he wrote:
If I were that ant it would hurt. I'm sorry for killing that ant.
PS: Luke don't want to be an ant."
He brought it over to me, silently glowering, waited while I started reading, and then glared accusingly over his glasses at me as he emphatically punched the last line with his index finger, not saying a word. I busted up laughing. I think he may have got the message . . .