C is for Centipede

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Ryan found a centipede, “with billions of legs.” He quickly became as attached to it as the minnows he would collect in his bucket at the beach. “I’m naming him Legs and I’m keeping him forever.”

I knew by tomorrow “forever” would be forgotten, but I went and found him a tupperware bowl.

He filled it with dirt and leaves, and with a magnifying glass, gazed into the centipede’s accomodations. “Hey, mom, there’s all kinds of bugs in here now. Ants and stuff. They must have been in the dirt.”

And then one of those ants captured the centipede. A tiny ant was actually making off with the centipede, in comparison, the size of some congo snake.

Now the “billions” of legs were waving frantically, as the centipede twisted this way and that, trying to escape.

“Mommy, save him! Do something!”

I considered this. Should this wind up a life lesson about nature? Survival of the fittest?

“Mommy, please…..” At the end of beach days, when he has to release those minnows back into their natural waters, he is equally tearful and calls out farewells to each one – by name.

His little brother had been wandering around the lawn trying to catch inch worms hanging from the sky. Although equally intrigued by bugs, he didn’t get nearly as attached; he would collect worms then forget about them on the swings to dry out in the sun.

He came over to peer into the little tupperware bowl of drama. “Wow, that’s cool.”

“It’s not cool, it’s bad. It’s cruel,” Ryan lamented. In that way he might lament about how no one wanted to play his imaginary games of wizards and dragons on the playground. How he would wile away recess dangling alone from the monkey bars.

I pinched the ant away from the centipede and tossed him from the centipede’s residence.

The centipede was still for a moment. “He’s dead,” Ryan announced in a devastated whisper.

Then Mr. Centipede moved. He struggled off his back with his billions of legs and made his way over to a leaf. I was surprised by my own tremendous relief.

Thank you, Mommy. I just want to see everything live. Nothing should die.”

I thought then that maybe I’d made the wrong choice. That this could have been a lesson, however hard, about the fact that all things die. That life is just that: unfair.

Still. In the company of a child young enough to still kindle great faith in how things should be, I couldn’t resist making this “forever” moment perhaps last longer than for just one day.



About Sandra

Author;editor of The Woven Tale Press at thewoventalepress.net; mother; weaver
This entry was posted in A-Z, centipede, children, motherhood. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to C is for Centipede

  1. Nikki says:

    This was another amazing post! I really enjoyed this story. It brought back memories of these books that I loved as a child but I’ve forgotten the name of. Something like ‘Sophie’s Garden’ or something, about a little girl who wished to be a farmer when she grew up. In the story, she collected little bugs in jars and kept them as a little collection and I used to do it too when I was little. Thank you for bringing back a lovely memory 🙂

    Nikki – inspire nordic

  2. Li says:

    This makes me a little (just a little) less terrified of centipedes. An exterminator told me one time to be happy they’re around – they prey on spiders and all sorts of insects. But they still creep me out 🙂

  3. Hey Sandra, I would have done the same thing as you and saved him. I was rooting for him and had my fingers crossed, as I became attached to him in the few short minutes it took me to read the tale. That sure is some great story telling.

  4. Amy Morgan says:

    Reality and the hard lessons of life hit soon enough with the things you don’t have any control over. He has the rest of his life to deal with those things. Good for you for keeping the innocence alive just a little longer. A really nice post.

  5. Sweet story. Children have to learnt he hard lessons of life soon enough, so I think you did the right thing – Mom to the rescue!

  6. I would have made the same choice. I wish my kids would go for the bugs. My son wants the crows and squirrels to come inside to become pets. Thankfully he does not have the speed to grab them or attention span to come up with a trap to catch them, yet.

  7. What a wonderful post! You know, I think they have plenty of time to learn the harsher lessons of life. And you taught him an important one: if you have the ability to step in and help someone or something, do it. It’s the right thing to do.

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  8. Jenn says:

    This is such a beautiful post– if only we could foster that faith a little longer in all of our children 🙂

    Cheers, Jenn

  9. Kathy says:

    I love that the centipede got a reprieve. YAY centipede!!


  10. Hi, Visiting from the A to Z Challenge. Great post. I can truly relate as the mother of a three (almost four) year old boy. Oh, the innocence and wonder!

  11. sandra, great write! everything about it….

  12. Such moments with children… mine are adults now, but this brings back memories. Treasure. 🙂

  13. Haddock says:

    Saving the centipede was a good deed but frankly speaking he should also know the law of the jungle 🙂

  14. You are a gifted story teller, and it sounds like you are also a wonderful mom. This was a fun story to read: very visual!

  15. Jo says:

    I understand the heroic deed you performed and I applaud that. I also wonder why he wasn’t concerned about the ant you cast out! LOL

    Artfully told and lovingly read.

  16. It sounds like you handled it just right. You let him handle it at the level he was ready for.

    You might want to get a copy of “The Fall of Freddie the Leaf” is you don’t already have one, if he’s starting to process thoughts about life and death. Eventually, there will be a critter he can’t rescue, or who is already dead.

  17. Centipedes are all over my house. LOL I think of them as little running mustaches.

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