Wednesday, October 21, 2009


1 : to set free from restraint, confinement, or servitude

The day after Artie the Monarch Butterfly emerged from his chrysalis, B set him free. She knew he needed to head to Mexico, as all monarchs do. But she wanted some of her friends to get to see him "live and in person," not just via a picture that I had e-mailed for her teacher to share with the class. So I picked up Artie in his butterfly tent and met B after school.

K was the first one to emerge from the building. She was excited to see Artie and immediately began calling friends over to see him. But that was nothing compared to when B walked out. Her face lit up when she saw me holding the butterfly tent and she called to her friends, "Come see Artie!" In this picture, one of B's friends is literally jumping up and down with excitement.

It wasn't long before children younger and older than B were hesitantly coming up to her and asking to see Artie. I gave her some time to show him off and asked a few times, "Has everyone seen him?" The librarian came over to see him. B took him up for the principal and teachers to see. She shared him with friends from last year's class, friends from this year's class and curious onlookers.

And then it was time to let him go. I went over to B, who was surrounded by children. I asked her one last time if she'd shown Artie to everyone that she wanted to. She agreed that she had. I told her I thought it was time to let him go and asked a few children to let me into the circle to help her unzip the top of the tent while holding it aloft.

When I went home to pick Artie up and bring him to school, it was obvious that his wings were ready and he was anxious to get going. While he spent the first 18 to 24 hours perched quietly and moving only occasionally, he was flapping around his tent consistently by the 36 hour mark. I expected him to bolt when Bekah opened the tent, so I had the camera ready.

Bekah unzipped the tent. Artie perched on the edge.

And he stayed there. In fact, the children were moving around more than he was.

So I reached out to him and he went onto my finger. He stayed there, seeming to take things in. And as Bekah moved over to get him onto her finger, he left. He circled up, circled again and was gone.

And Bekah was happy for him. There were no tears shed. She did exactly what Artie needed in the time he was with her. She trusted her instincts and fed him what he needed. She provided him with a safe place to live and cleaned out his home. She procured a bigger home for him, with the help of a kind and loving teacher. She watched and waited, never losing faith, while he stayed in his chrysalis for longer than we expected. She was, in fact, the mother I hope to be.

I want to give my children what they need, but not hover, not worry over the outcome. I want to do what I can to train them, shape them and love them. I want to trust that I know what is best for my daughters. And I want to not cry when I release them, but be thankful for the time I had with them.


RBM said...

Oh, do you think its possible to not cry when you release them? I cried just reading your post. What a lovely lesson for us all.

WordGirl said...

No, it's probably not possible to release them without a few tears. But if I remind myself along the way that the whole point is to get them to freedom, I hope it will make it easier to let them go.

Chris and Tiana said...

Aw, that's such a great story! I love Bekah's face in the second to last picture. She looks so excited to see Artie take off. I love the lesson about releasing your kids- I'm definitely not ready to do that yet, but I hope when the time comes I'll realize that it's what best for them. Still makes me want to cry, though!

Variations On A Theme said...

That's beautiful!!!!!!

Natalie said...

so sweet.