The summer walks have resumed. They started in spring, and Emmy and I observed all the subtle changes in the trees and grass and the day the bugs came out.
Now we are back at our strolls through the neighborhood. Last summer, my then four-year-old pretended to be a cardinal on the walks. She has a fascination with birds of all kinds, but settled on a cardinal for imaginative purposes.
This year she is a small dog named Lady. She insists I toss her dog biscuits and treats and give her drinks from a water bottle as we walk along. The neighbors who see us walk by must get some interesting glimpses of us. Emmy stops pretending long enough to exclaim over the plants and flowers the neighbors have planted in the borders or big pots on their porches. She’s so tall now, legs long and skinny as she darts here and there, full of enthusiasm and commentary.
There is a giant tree we pass. It must be 100 years old with craggy, rough bark. She hugs the tree as we go by. I have a mini-tree hugger in the making. I call her the tree whisperer as she likes to feel the bark and sometimes says something mysterious and private to the trees as we go by.
We discussed ants the other day. I told her not to wreck the ant houses if she could help it. “Why?” she asked.
“Because they work so hard to make those little houses and then we kick it down.” She thought about that for a while. (I laughed to myself because ants are fine unless they start marching into my house. My sympathies fade at that point.)
Yesterday, Emmy discovered a robin’s nest in our tree. She got to watch as the mother fed the baby birds with their beaks open. She’s been observing ever since. The mother flies back and forth getting more food for the babies. Em put her small lawn chair under the tree and silently watches the little drama. She likes the way the feathers stand up on the baby birds heads. “I can only see their little feather heads sometimes, Mama,” she told me.
She requested lunch outside today, so I gave her some whole grain bread and strawberry jam and a bowl of fruit and thought she would be sitting on the porch to eat it. I came out and she was gone, or so I thought. She had put her pink lawn chair under the tree to watch her bird family while she ate her lunch. Children are so observant. I watched her as she watched the birds in the nest above. I wondered about what she was thinking.
Empathy for living creatures is naturally there in normal children. We as parents can encourage it. She is staying quiet as she observes. She knows that noise will alarm the mother who is watching over her little ones.
It’s summertime! All the little living things are making life interesting. Including my little Em.