The new fallen rain had awoken a fragrance of spring that we had been longing for since the snow hit in November. I could tell the frost was out of the ground by the pungent fermenting-earth smell that pierced my nostrils, and how the soft ground surrendered under my footsteps on the front lawn of our home. For late April the air felt unseasonably cold but after a long winter it was utterly refreshing to breathe in without the icy sting my lungs.
It was morning and my son, Cash was ready for school at an unusually early hour. Being ahead of schedule is a rarity for him although our track record of being “on time” is status quo. Today, we had a surplus of 15 minutes, the reason in which we were dressed and outside.
As we sloshed around in the spongy dormant grass, Cash noticed something curious about our driveway.
“Why are there lines all over place, daddy?” he asked puzzled, pointing to the asphalt leading up to our garage bays.
Following his sightline, I indentified the origin of his curiosity. Lying upon the black rain-glossed surface of the driveway were hundreds of earthworms of varying sizes.
I urged him to walk forward and have a closer look. I wanted him to make the creepy-crawly discovery for himself and awaited his reaction.
“Worms!” he shouted and lunged forward to improve his vantage point. Arriving at the edge of the asphalt, Cash cautiously began to tip toe through a gauntlet of wiggling, pink, translucent tubes until he found one large enough to earn his attention.
He picked it up.
He silently watched its body twist in palm of his thin, red cotton glove.
He was captivated by his encounter.
I was captivated by his encounter.
I loved watching my son discover and interact with his environment. His innocent curiosity invigorated me and made me reflect on the impact his experiences have on him. What he sees, touches, tastes, smells and hears at the age of six is often new. The gravity of his contemporary discoveries is truly an exercise in perspective.
Cash asked, “Why are they all on our driveway, daddy?” His attention turned to me, the look of excitement on his face melted in to one of concern. “Aren’t they going to get squished when we leave for school?”
I answered; “no” even though I knew some would succumb to the dangers of being out in the open.
“Why do worms come out when it rains?” Cash’s mind proceeded to race. And before I could answer he started to identify what he already knew about worms.
I allowed him to finish his proud presentation of facts and answered his question; “Worms come out of the earth when it rains because that’s when they can. If it’s sunny out they will dry up and won’t survive. Just like you wait for warm, clear days to play outside, worms look for darker, wet days to come out of their homes.”
This was probably the only substantial piece of information I had about earthworms. I was happy that I could satisfy him with an answer but it got me thinking, should I leave it at that or push him forward to want to know more? Would I be able to give him the answers he’s looking for?
With the new and curious come many questions. Children are inherently inquisitive. I want to hone in on this natural appetite for information and encourage my son to take a closer look at what he is discovering, challenge him to make deeper observations and create an environment where he’s not afraid to ask more questions.
What’s more, I want to become comfortable with not knowing the answers to the questions my son will have. I don’t want to be a parent who doctors facts when they escape me in order to appease my child and preserve my authority.
Not knowing can be a gift. It will give me the opportunity to learn something new together with my son. And my example will show him that it’s okay to be without all the answers. I want to teach him to be comfortable with the unknown, and like the worms take a chance to leave what feels safe and familiar, and grow as he explores the world.
For his next step is to learn. Not to take life at face value. And not to accept what escapes him.
Moments passed. After I took pause, I turned to Cash and asked, “what else should we learn about worms today? Let’s have a closer look.”