Ant Poison 

Willow found a container of ant poison on the floor of a bathroom today. Thankfully, she didn’t touch it because she has the amazing self-preservation instinct to generally ask before touching unknown and potentially harmful objects. I told her it was poison that can hurt people and animals if we touch it or get it in our mouths. She asked why people would leave poison on the floor. I said that it was for the ants. She innocently asked if the “little red circle” was a “house for the ants”. For a moment I almost went along with her sweet version of the truth (or “alternate truth”, if you prefer), but decided to be truthful in the gentlest way I could. I said that people don’t want ants inside buildings, so sometimes they buy ant poison in little red circles that kills the ants so they won’t be inside anymore. She was horrified. “They kill the ants? They hurt the ants?” She asked, her eyes as wide as saucers. “Well, yes.” “On purpose? Why, Momma?” “Well, it’s too hard to relocate all of the ants outside, and they really don’t want the ants to be here.” (We practice the spider relocation program in our home, because I can’t bring myself to kill a spider, even though I know that they will likely perish outside in the cold). 
She accepted this explanation, but was quite shaken. Thankfully, Daddy was waiting outside of the bathroom and offered snuggles to soothe the nerves of a newly minted three-year-old who just realized that people sometimes hurt creatures on purpose. 
Oh, our sensitive, gentle, compassionate and caring child. What a huge heart she has. My heart hurt today as I watched her face fall with this new piece of information. It would have been easier just to pretend that nobody kills insects, but I want to provide honest answers to honest questions, and I want to help her to learn to cope with the world around her. 
I desperately want to protect this miracle child from the disappointments of life, but I know that I also want to help her to develop the skills needed to get over these small shocks to her understanding of the world with support from those who love her. These small moments pave the way for future heartaches and disappointments. There will be many more and larger discoveries ahead. Moments when parts of her innocence will be chipped away. When the protective bubble she’s privileged enough to enjoy will suddenly pop. I know these moments are coming… but I don’t feel ready to tackle anything bigger than ant poison just yet. 
Willow will continue to teach us how to cope with seeing her struggle and experience pain, discomfort, and disappointment. She continues to make me a better and more thoughtful human being, teacher, and parent. She is truly my greatest teacher. 

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