Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Was Is Bug

Addie saw it first. As I was watering the newly planted annuals in the yard, I recognized in her the interested squat, cocked head and the beginning of a greedy swipe. She loves to watch insects and spiders, then "feel" them with a giant's heavy hand. The look of shock on her face is genuine when she discovers post-swipe her friends lying motionless and mangled on the pavement or deck boards. They just ruined all the fun by croaking under her loving but destructive affection. It's hard to teach a kid with a cognitive disability about fragility, about moderating interaction based on a durability assessment of the object/person first. Lenny never really caught on to that lesson, despite George's best intentions.

So I stepped over to the fence when I saw her rear for the swipe. I am taking as many opportunities as I can to help her understand when gentle observation will make things (beings) last longer or interact with her longer.

"Gentle, Addie. Just watch, don't touch."

I've also been taking photos of things outside she shows interest in for a slide show for her. Lots of bug and flowers, tree branches from the trunk's view. So I said for her to hold on, I'll get a picture for her.

She held on, knowing my camera was in my pocket as it usually is when I am with her. She waited. I expected to see a black ant or spider, certainly not anything with wings that surely would have taken off when her shadow darkened the perch on the fence.

But Addie had something a little more special to show me on our fence post:

She waited for something to happen. She reached again for it as I took pictures, but I stopped her in time. Eventually, seeing that it had my attention, rather than her having it, she sidled away, back into the yard to look for more sticks, bugs, standing water...

I watched it a long time. Movements were barely perceptible, but I believe we caught the cicada at the very completion of shedding the old outer layer. The photos do not do the color of the new look justice. The green framing up the ethereal wings looked almost plugged in it was so bright. But tender. You could see how delicate, how new, how fragile it was. And wet.

The cicada stood on it's old self, waiting for it's new self to dry, to grow sturdy and strong. I sat down and waited with it.

It, as everything does, reminded me of my girl. Reminded me of the differences between myself and her. When I shed something old, I cannot wait to get away from it, to kick it away violently, arrogant that the new me (attitude, skill, idea, whatever) is stronger and better than the old. That the old is useless and almost shameful. But of course there are times when the new isn't baked enough, strong enough. I look back for the old, but I've already destroyed it.

This cicada subscribed to Addie's method of change. Addie rests on the old skill (idea, milestone, motivation...), the tried and true, clearly strong skill while observing and waiting for the new to emerge stronger, complete. She reveres the old, clear on how necessary it is, how it is the mother of the new - the current new and the future news. She never forgets where she was and uses it to get where she's going.

Reluctantly, I left the old/new cicada to take Addie to music therapy. When we circled the red wagon back around in the driveway upon our return, the cicada had flown, leaving the old shell intact. You never know, she might need to come back to it.

Cicada song will start here in a few weeks. Addie and I will talk about the music they make using the sign we made up for ourselves - "old/new bug." We plan to try and record a snippet of the wing music for a new cicada page on her communication device.


Kelly said...

Terri, I just loved this post. What a beautiful connection you made. Your children are so lucky to have you as a mom.
We are trying to stop and reveal in things just like this as the months of summer pass us by.

Kelly W.

Jessica mommy to Alex/ RTS said...

I need to let my new self grow strong "dry off", then maybe the hard times that come up wont knock me down so hard.
Thanks Terri, and Addie

Cindy said...

Thanks for the post and the pictures.

Brandi said...

Beautiful story, beautiful pictures. I love how you stop for those teachable moments with Addy. You are the best "teacher" that she will ever have.

Once again, your writing has touched me, challenged me, and inspired me. Thanks.

Tarah said...

Wow, that is a cool and freaky picture at the same time. I love how you applied that picture to life, it touched me greatly. Thanks for sharing.