Samantha is my sensitive little girl. By that, I mean she cries over just about everything. In the last couple months it has escalated to almost daily tears over pretty silly things.
I’ve already written about her ant heartbreak. She also has a proclivity for snails, apparently. We regularly find snails in our yard, in our sandboxes, in our playhouses, in our garden, everywhere. The girls are really fascinated by them and their slimy little bodies. Samantha learned last month that when a snail’s shell breaks, it dies. This has not stopped her from screaming when she sees one and having me chuck it over the fence or anywhere out of her sensitive sight.
However, on the rare occasion she is interested in touching a snail, it becomes a sacred creature worthy of deep empathy. One day last week, some snail caught her fancy and she proceeded to hold it and examine it. Ella, ever the copycat, wanted to hold it also, so Samantha placed it with great care into her little sister’s hands. Little sister, startled by the cool sliminess, dropped the snail and it landed on the concrete patio with an echoing crunch. Samantha’s lower lip quivered and tears began to spill from her eyes as she turned, running to my arms to be comforted for the loss of her beloved snail, what’s-his-name. She talked of the snail often that day, reminiscing what a good snail he had been, and how sad it was that Ella had killed him by cracking his shell.
Today, yet another tear producing event occurred: the sea monkeys all died. Sean and I had both suspected a complete die off of the tank this weekend, but this morning, for sure, there was nothing swimming around in the tank. (I believe it to be a poor aeration issue, as in, I haven’t been aerating the tank with my straw.)
Samantha asked to see them, so I said, “Oh, Honey, I think they’re all dead.” Her face dropped and she turned back to her oatmeal, hunched over. I noticed drops splattering off the table.
“Samantha?” I asked.
She turned to me, unable to contain her sadness, and jumped into my arms, burying her face in my shoulder as she sobbed for her poor sea monkeys who had such a short life.
I now see all the disappointments and death that surround a four year old’s world. I try to shield her from it, but it’s all around, and if it isn’t, Samantha finds something to cry over. She is my sensitive little artist.
And, although I hate seeing her so upset over what I consider silly little things, every time she mourns an insignificant little creature, I smile. She has learned empathy. We’ve done something right.
P.S. We will be ordering more sea monkey eggs, and an aerator. (And maybe some food that makes them red, because that’s just cool.)