Cicadas, Teachable Moments, and Great Memories

The other day, my son and I were busy cleaning up some branches we had clipped from the bushes. As I was trudging through the heat, I suddenly realized he wasn’t working anymore. I was getting more than a little irritated when I heard him say, “Hey, Mom. Come look at this.”

After the crazy-busy year we had this past year, I’ve learned to take advantage of those kind of moments. So I dropped off my load and headed over to the cement block he was looking at.

“Look,” he said. “I’ve never seen this before. It’s one of those bugs that leave the shell behind. But I’ve never seen one before it’s left its shell.”

Sure enough, there was a cicada climbing slowly up the side of the block. I thought for a moment.

“You know,” I said, “I’ve never seen one before either. I’ve seen the shells. I’ve seen them after they’ve emerged with their wings. But I don’t ever think I’ve seen one at this stage. He must have just come up out of the ground.”

We watched as the cicada climbed to the top of the block, then decided it needed a better place to be. I picked it up, and we moved it to a nearby tree that sports lots of cicada shells in the summer. We decided that must be a favorite spot and that this cicada would like it as well. We watched as it climbed and climbed, all the while talking about cicadas and their lifecycles, other insects, and how we both felt about crawly things in general.

We were hoping the cicada would stop climbing before we had to leave on errands, but it didn’t. And by the time we got home again, the cicada had climbed out of sight.

Although we didn’t see it emerge with wings, I’m glad I stopped working long enough to watch it. This one little creature climbing up a cinderblock not only gave me an opportunity to teach, but even better, an opportunity to connect with my son.

What moments have you experienced this summer that helped you connect with your children?

Photo by:  Peter Shanks

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