Occasionally, we get direct emails from readers asking for advice. Usually, it has to do with breastfeeding or natural birth. Today’s question was unique and inspired this post:
Hi! I am reading your blog, and I also love the eco life! I also try to teach my kids respect for all living creatures. However, yesterday when a big spider stumbled across the kitchen floor I calmly took a piece of kleenex and promptly squished it! But, when I am standing there, satisfied with dead spider in hand, I suddenly see the question in my three year old boys look, and feel ashamed! How do I explain this? I am not that afraid of spiders, I just killed it because it was there! How do you deal with these sort of things? Do you also squish spiders in front of your kids, and do you own a fly swatter and swatt flies and wasps? And how do you explain this to your kids?
That’s a tough one. In general, I try to put bugs outside if I can catch them, even wasps which I am allergic too. Often, I do have to end their lives. I do kill ticks and mosquitoes. There is a health concern with these insects. Not sure that is valid justification, but I can’t imagine letting these bloodsuckers go.
Somehow, the threshold of the house means less tolerance for bugs. We don’t want ants and flies in our home. There are [amazon_link id=”B003168P16″ target=”_blank” ]gadgets[/amazon_link] to help you compassionately remove them, but a cup or magazine can do the trick. Garlic is a great repellent.
When my children were young, I made a practice of always saying, “May you have an auspicious rebirth” when killing something whether accidentally or on purpose. Today, I only say it if I accidentally hit a squirrel or some such little creature with the car. This little saying inspired great conversations with my little ones.
I love the reaction our reader’s child had. It shows the pureness of life being honored at such a young age. I think having an open conversation with your child is the best advice. Listen to their questions and concerns. Say a little prayer together, no matter your religious belief. It can even just be an apology. No matter how small the creature is/was, it shows you value life.
We try to live nonviolent lives. It is why we are vegetarians, at least my daughter and I. Yet, we harm life. I was struck by this thought when pulling weeds in the garden. I was ending the life of these annoying plants. Is it much different then killing a bug?
We inadvertently step on creatures when we walk. Our cars are killers. We cannot eat and sustain life without taking some other life in the process. Plants are living things too. Helping our children understand this give and take of life, as well as respect for it, is important.
I saw a rather large beetle on my hike yesterday and had a similar urge thinking it was one that kills trees, but I did not do it. I toss slugs out of my garden, even though I know they will likely crawl back in. My deceased Buddhist neighbor once told a friend that that slug could be her grandmother. I hope my Catholic grandmother is not a slug.
There’s plenty of food for everyone.
No, I do not own a fly swatter.