What is it with kids and killing insects? Even kids who I know would never hurt an animal find it okay to kill insects. I have no idea why this behavior is acceptable to our society, but assume it's a learned behavior from their parents and others who may swat flies, squish spiders, and poison ants.
A vegan life means, to me, to live as cruelty free as possible. Have I been guilty of the above? Yes. And it makes me super sad. Since going veg, I try as much as possible to not use the fly swatter (save for the one time I came home from camping and the garage was disgustingly inundated with flies - yuck!! But I had really tried everything else! And truly cried every time I swatted one).
Anyways, it's Spring time here in California, and all of a sudden it seems all the kids are talking about squishing bugs! Meanies. My son has a friend, who's a little older (12), and kinda a tough guy. He was in the car talking about how cool it was that this other kid was catching tadpoles and frogs at school and twisting their heads off. OMGosh, seriously?!? I think my son got his attention with a loud gasp : )
I always try to take these opportunities to teach compassion to other kids. So I said "My gosh, that's terrible! It makes me so sad to hear that. I am glad you guys don't hurt animals like that - by the way, did you know that kids who hurt insects and animals are more likely to hurt other people too?" I'm not sure this had the effect I was hoping for, but I will say that it stopped the conversation, and led into a silence I like to think was reflective :-)
Yesterday, my daughter came home and said that she and some of the other second grade girls were digging for rollie pollies, and one of the girls decided to have a contest to see how many they could squish. Kayla suggested that they dig for "special rocks" instead, and throw them against the ground to see who could break them in half. I am so proud of her! Unlink Dylan, she doesn't like to stand out as a vegan. I asked her if she told the other girls why she didn't want to squish the bugs; she said "No, but mama, I saved their lives!" It almost made me cry!
I also look for opportunities to praise the kids for not hurting bugs. One of my 8 year-old softball players was walking along this weekend, and said, "look, there's a bee on the ground!" Seeing the toe of her cleat edge towards the bee, I said "thanks so much for not hurting her; it would have made me really sad if she had died". She looked at me, agreed, and didn't squish the bee! I've also used the same technique with the boys after a rain, when all the worms are out and about. Seeing them make a game of stepping on the worms, I made up a game and enlisted them to help me be the "Worm Warriors" to collect them and put them into the garden beds. It works really well!
Anyways, I know that most people don't value the lives of insects, but I do. And I think that it all leads to THINKING about compassion to other living things, and actually realizing that these ARE living things, deserving of our protection, not viciousness.