A kind-hearted girl

Sophie with Pinky the Caterpillar and the house she drew for her.

Last Wednesday, Sophie found a caterpillar. She immediately named her Pinky and drew a house for her on our front walk. (We were outside coloring with sidewalk chalk when the caterpillar made her grand entrance.) Later, Sophie made a home for her in a bug jar.

On Thursday, Sophie went outside to get fresh grass and leaves for Pinky. She wanted to be certain that the caterpillar had enough to eat.

On Friday morning, Sophie was worried. Pinky, she said, did not seem very happy.

“Mommy,” she asked me as she peered into the bug jar, “do you think Pinky’s happy?”

“Well,” I said, “she probably would rather be outdoors. But if she’s going to be inside, I think you’ve done the very best job you could to make sure she’s comfortable.”


Sophie holds the drawing she did after setting Pinky free.

Sophie got up from the table, took Pinky into the yard and set her free.

Then she came back indoors and burst into tears.

“I miss Pinky,” she wailed.

I comforted her by saying that Pinky was probably happier to be outside and play with other caterpillars than to be all alone in a bug jar, even a very nice one.

It was one of the first times I’ve seen Sophie do something that made her unhappy just because it was the right thing to do. It’s one of those times as a parent when you can see your child’s conscience and moral sensibilities assembling before your eyes. I’m so proud of her.

Kids and pop music

I used to think that the first issues I would have related to parenthood and pop music were going to arise in 2020 or so, sometime after Sophie became a teenager.

Not that my parents ever seemed to worry about the music that my brother and I were into as kids. They let me go see INXS with friends in Philadelphia at 16. Soon after, my father introduced me to The Damned and their fantastic album “Phantasmagoria.” My mom has told me that one of her biggest parenting regrets is not letting my brother go see the Grateful Dead in concert when he was in high school. (Yeah, my parents are that cool.)

Charlotte already wants to be a rock star.

Anyway, fast-forward a bit and I assumed there would eventually be a problem. One of our sweet girls would grow up to be a fan of death metal (or, worse, twangy country music) and we’d have to start shouting through her bedroom door for her to turn it down. You get the idea.

The reality is that it’s our music that’s the problem. And it’s a problem already! We can’t listen to the new Cee Lo Green song “Fuck You” in front of the kids. We know from past experience (with Lady Gaga and Weezer, among others) that they’ll know the lyrics by heart after hearing it just a few times.

So what’s a responsible parent to do? I cannot go back to The Wiggles. Honestly, I don’t really even want to go back to listening to the Barenaked Ladies’ “Snacktime” and that relatively harmless batch of cool-but-still-intended-for-kids music now that we’ve all moved on to regular pop hits. But I also hate to hear my 6-year-old singing Katy Perry’s “California Gurls.” Good grief!