This brought me back to when the kids were very young. Discovering an ant for the first time from the edge of a picnic blanket as it carried food twice its size and made its way through the grass only to mount a sandy mound and disappear down a hole was nothing less than wonderful.
Saving this moth for a proper burial, seemed fitting. The laundry could wait a few minutes.
Leaning in to lift it out of the sink created a current of air perhaps which revived it, for the moth moved its thin appendages slightly. At once the retrieval became a rescue, but how to help without harming this innocent life? We all know that a laundry sink with its regular exposure to industrial chemicals, harsh soaps and whatever nanoparticles a laundry sink might encounter was certainly an unfriendly environment to a tiny moth used to being in a natural setting.
Disarming perceived danger also comes with its own unique hidden dangers. I wanted to think it through, but I could sense that time was ticking for this small indefensible creature.
I thought of scooping it up with a spatula, but that seemed a sledgehammer solution, given the thick, stainless steel edge not suited to the delicate nature of the moth’s wings. Wings wet and clung together. Wings which would require just as delicate an operation to free them. Acting without thinking could be certain death. After all, a life was at stake. On the other hand, inaction was just as risky. Teaching a child that life is precious can begin with one moth being saved.
As parents, we hope that whenever our children are trapped and in trouble, there would be thoughtful, swift action by those in charge.
I went to the kitchen, tore off a paper towel and scanned the counter for a suitable implement. Something soft and precise, that would aid in the moth’s best chance for survival.
As parents, we have power in these situations, and how we behave is exemplary to our kids. Even a small child is a giant when it comes to a bug underfoot. And these encounters can offer lessons in courage and empathy for our kids.
Pointing out a Bumble bee buzzing from bloom to bloom in all of its pollinating industry and its black and yellow fuzz serves to show a child there’s little to be afraid of and more to notice. I think of watching a spider weaving its web with a childhood friend. There must have been an adult in our young lives who taught us early on that a gray spider was just doing what it was supposed to do. Someone showed us it was a natural thing worth observing.
So in the case of a moth splashed down and stuck to the laundry sink, it is true that it would’ve been quicker to scrape it out of the way and wash it down the drain without a care. But what if there were a lesson there?
Our hands, can be weapons of war, swiftly and violently ending a life of a tiny being, and they can just as well be tools of peace and love, saving a life. As moms, we intuitively know our kids watch and learn by what we say and do. In our hearts and minds we carry a kind of natural law which says, first do no harm. Observe and learn.
That’s when I spied the yellow watercolors paintbrush which Scarlett had used last. It was in a bouquet of dish scrubbers and various bottle brushes I kept near the kitchen faucet. I plucked it out and returned to the laundry room forming a plan on the way.
Gingerly, I used the paper towel to sop up the small pools of water trapping the moth. It surprised me by coming to life, climbing onto the fine hairs of the child’s paintbrush where it held fast until it took flight into the great outdoors, a natural and beautiful sight.