Free Range Ladybug


Last Christmas, we got our little one a ladybug house. In spring, we ordered the little larva, put them in the house and watched as they turned from little creepy crawlies to beautifully colored, gorgeously round bugs that were released in our garden. We had a lot of fun watching this metamorphosis.

Recently, our daughter has found a ladybug she named "Lulu" in our new house. After gently collecting it and adding it to the ladybug house, she proceeded to add grass and a soaked raisin so Lulu had food. About three and a half minutes later, she decided Lulu needed to be held, walked around the house, and play on the rug with her. And so, Lulu flew off and disappeared. I fully expected a breakdown on the part of my three year old. And got the opposite. "Lulu went off to explore. We'll find her again." Sure, I thought, she'll just show right up....

The next day, while we were eating lunch, Lulu, did, in fact, show up, crawling on the chair next to my daughter. She started screaming with excitement, "Lulu came back! Lulu came back!" And the cycle of collecting Lulu, taking her out of her house to play and walk, and Lulu once again "exploring" occurred. This time, Lulu was gone for a few days (and did, at one point, try to join me in a bath; no thank you, Lulu). This morning, Lulu appeared again! Repeat crazy excitement, jumping on the bed, pointing at the window sill where Lulu was until again, she was carefully collected and placed in her ladybug house where she has now been for a half hour. I'm certain that by the end of the morning, she will once again be a free range ladybug.

The greatest surprise of all of this has been just how at ease my three year old has been each time Lulu had another "adventure." I anticipated a meltdown of epic proportion, complete with everything you would think of a toddler meltdown, including our most recent development, a good attempt to hit someone which is quickly re-categorized as "trying to high five you!" But she hasn't melted down. Instead, she's trusted that Lulu is having great adventures and will show up again. And shockingly, Lulu has.

How often are we frustrated when we are attached to an idea of how something should be, but then it doesn't turn out that way? For example, ladybugs in people houses SHOULD be in their ladybug house or set free outside. That was my idea of how this should happen. But instead, my daughter's ability to show me a completely different way of considering this and her trust that it would all work out has been a great reminder of the concept of healthy detachment.

When we are attached to the way something SHOULD be, we rarely allow possibilities for it to be another way. James Martin S.J. (the former Colbert Report priest) writes about the life of St. Ignatius, one of the coolest saints ever, and founder of the Jesuits (known for such universities as Georgetown, Gonzaga, and anything with Loyola in its name). Martin writes, "What Ignatius meant by indifference was freedom. The freedom to approach each decision afresh. The ability to be detached from one's initial biases and to step back, the willingness to carefully balance the alternatives" (From The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything. Where could detachment from our biases allow us more freedom, opportunities to see things anew and express more gratitude? Sometimes all it takes is a free range ladybug who returns time and time again to bring about a metamorphosis of our own.

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