There’s a lovely walking trail somewhat near our house – one that I often run on when I can get away by myself. When I am accompanied by my entourage, I bribe the children to walk (without whining) in exchange for a stop at a candy store halfway through our route. Occasionally, we also have the pleasure of walking with our neighbors on this trail.
Last Friday, our companions included the beautiful and infinitely sweet Loulie. She’s Noah’s age, and they’re quite fond of each other.
So Loulie, her mother, and her baby brother sat out with the kids and I on a walk. Along our path, we took a break at a park bench by the creek. Noah and Loulie had one of those moments – the ones where us moms look at each other with adoring smiles and say, “Are they not the CUTEST?!”
They threw sticks and rocks into the creek and talked about the meaning of life, as three-year-olds often do.
Ali, meanwhile, was sweaty and zombified, slumped on the park bench next to me. At the age of seven, she does not have Noah and Loulie’s privilege of riding in a jogging stroller as if they are royalty being jaunted through life on a curtained litter.
I looked over at Ali and she had the most adorable baby grasshopper climbing up her arm. He was neon green and so lightweight that she didn’t even feel him.
I was smitten.
I carefully nudged him onto my finger and excitedly beckoned the couple at the creek to come see.
“Isn’t he cute? He’s so tiny. He’s a baby!!”
Loulie and Noah looked on in wonder.
He then hopped off of my finger.
“Where’d he go?”
“Where is he?”
“Oh there he is! Right at Noah’s foot.”
Perhaps Noah took this as an encrypted code from me on what needed to happen next. Or perhaps he’s just a boy.
But with the same measure of excitement I had about finding the grasshopper, Noah stomped on him.
Then stomped again for good measure. And gave his shoe a little grinding action.
I, being somewhat used to the male species and their idea of fun, recovered quickly and dryly said, “Well, he was by Noah’s foot.”
But Loulie. Dear sweet Loulie. Having only a tiny baby brother herself, she was wholly unprepared for vicious male barbarianism.
She began to whimper, softly, pitifully, grieving an untimely death.
Then the bleakness of the situation really hit her, and she ramped up to a full-out Wail of Devastation.
I took her baby brother so that her mother Renee could scoop her up and hide her from the tragedy that is this world, as Loulie continued her loud weeping, not able to speak past her grief.
After a few times of Renee asking her to calm down and talk it through, Loulie finally wailed out heartbroken accusations, as dramatically as if she were in a Matlock Courtroom.
“NOOOOOAAAAHHHH KIIIIIILLLLLLLLLLEEEEEEEDDDD THAT BABBBBBYYY GRASSSSSSSHOOPPPPPPPERRRR!!!”
Renee tried to comfort her.
“BUUUUUUUTTTTT HHHHHHEEEE STOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMPPPPEDDD ON ITTTTT!!!!”
“WWWWHHHHHHYYYYY DDDIIIIIDDD HEEEEE DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO THATTT??!??!”
Noah, meanwhile, had a half-impish grin (still enjoying the thrill of the hunt), half confused nose wrinkle (why would a girl cry over this), half guilty eyebrow crease (yes I know those looks account for 150% of his face but there was a lot going on there).
I explained to him that Loulie was sad about the fate of Baby Grasshopper and walked him through apologizing, which he did with his head down and an attempt at a contrite face.
Renee said to Loulie, “Okay. What do we say when someone tells us we’re sorry?”
“IIIIIIIIIIII <sob> FOOOOOOORRRRRGIIIIIIIIIVEEEEEEEE <whimper> YOUUUUUUUUUU.”
Then she hopped down and went back to the creek.
Noah, having at least some measure of tact, gave her a minute.
He pondered his transgressions, and considered The Mystery of Woman.
Then he, too, went back to the creek.
Where he immediately started stomping on ants.
Her expression should have told him everything. This was NOT the kind of relationship-building activity a woman needs right now!
But instead, she found the mercy in her heart, repositioned her mercy target from “Grasshopper” to “Dumb Boy”, and joined him in his ant stomping.
Girls are versatile like that.
And boys are not.
Because two minutes later, Noah went to get a sip of water – the hard way.
After I took a dozen pictures, I had to actually lift his legs off the ground and slowly finagle (yes that’s a word) his giant head out from its trap that I’m pretty sure was set by the ghost of a baby grasshopper.
He sat down next to the Grasshopper Corpse and rubbed his sore scalp. I could nearly hear a tiny chirp-like giggle coming from the rock next to him.
Poetic Justice is a beautiful thing. As was Ali’s diary entry, capturing the emotions of the event far better than I ever could.