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 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.