A new pet I never dreamed of having

My favorite kind of days are the ones where we don’t have to leave the house. That may be because I’m an introvert, or it may be because six days a week we have somewhere to be between school and church. It’s probably a combination of both.

Today we are having that kind of Saturday. We have gotten some tasks accomplished around the house. (We are still getting a few things unpacked from our move a few months ago.) And the kids have had a great time playing together. Last night we bought them a volleyball, which they’ve been wanting. So after lunch they headed out back to play with the volleyball. About 15 minutes later they came running in the door, excited to have discovered a fuzzy caterpillar. I have heard them called woolly worms, but I have since learned they are more often called woolly bears.

Both kids have had caterpillars in their classrooms to watch them make cocoons and turn into butterflies. So they were excited to capture this caterpillar and make him their own. I felt less enthusiasm. But they were so excited and had him in a metal lunchbox that I couldn’t help but agree. So I got out a container that had originally held takeout egg drop soup. My husband made air holes in the lid and suddenly, Willy the woolly bear became our pet. 

I told the kids to do some research on how to best take care of him. I decided to do some checking myself. And then I learned that the woolly bear does indeed make a cocoon and turns into a relatively pretty moth, but that he is cocooned all winter long. All. Winter. Long. I thought for sure this would deter my children as we talked about how they’ll have to make sure he has leaves and water drops every day until he cocoons and how they’ll have to take him out and clean out his habitat every couple of days for months on end. But they remained excited.

So, now Willy is on my front porch. (We learned they like cool weather best.) They even made him a little nest to put him in for a few minutes to get fresh air. They made a chart to keep track of the tasks that need to be done for him each day. They are excited. We are going to see about finding a more see-through home for Willy so they can see him without having to take off the lid of the container.

This is Willy the woolly bear’s current setup with his container, complete with a straw for him to build his cocoon on and some leaves with water drops on them for his munching. The metal lunchbox was his original transport. And the nest with the rock is where he can go when the kids decides he needs fresh air.

You never know what a Saturday will bring. I guess this will be a good chance for them to work on responsibility to take care of a pet. We’ve talked about getting a dog sometime soon since ours passed away in 2016. I’m not saying that if poor Willy doesn’t fare well that there won’t be a dog, but I am saying that if he does fare well, then I’ll be more confident in how much the kids can help with a pet.

And this is life with kids. I’ve never thought it’d be cool to have a caterpillar in my care. I still don’t think it’s all that awesome, but I love the enthusiasm coming from my kids. That is the story with parenthood. We may not always be thrilled — and I have already declared I’m not cleaning up Willy’s, ahem, output — but we do find times to compromise and go with something our kids are excited about. 

Now, you’ll have to excuse me. I need to make a trip to PetSmart to buy an insect habitat…

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