When my sister rose to give the toast as Matron of Honor at my wedding, she told our guests about one way she could always bother me when we were younger: She would kick the pine cones when we walked in the park. For some reason, I imagined the pine cones were with their families, laying on the cement clustered in groups. She would laugh and say, "Oh no, the baby pine cone is calling out to his mother!" as she gleefully kicked the smallest one away from the group. I would cry and put the pine cones back as we found them.
I am overly sentimental, I will admit, but I do think there is something to not deliberately hurting anything, even pine cones. A few weeks ago, my son Alex was with other children who were squishing ants. I am not an insect lover by any means and have gotten rid of many a bug, but to purposefully squish ants just scurrying by on their way seemed cruel. I told Alex that ants were creatures who had families and we should leave them alone. I saw him process this and he immediately stopped the squishing, telling the other children that the ants have families and we need to leave them alone.
Yesterday we had a barbecue with friends and I overheard Alex telling his buddy that ants are creatures and we shouldn't hurt them. He was really passionate in his speech, gesticulating and everything! I took his picture because I wanted to remember him defending the rights of ants at 4 and a half years old.
The irony, though, is today poor Alex picked a spot on the curb to watch the Memorial Day Parade that ended up being an ant colony. Ants were crawling on his legs, his socks, his shoes, his arms before he realized his unfortunate position. He was near hysterical to have ants all over him, understandably. My mother was with us and helped me get all the ants off of him. As we walked home, he said that the ants crawling on him was the worst part of the day. My mom explained that because he defended the ants, they saw him as a friend and knew he wouldn't hurt them. He listened to her explanation without reply, taking in her words and mulling them over.
He didn't get my love of eating or my curly hair. He doesn't like to sit with books or color like I did when I was young. But, he is the daughter of the pine cone defender and like it or not, he is now protector of the ants.