day 268: my little butterflies

Two days ago a miracle happened in my classroom.  It was the kind of miracle that I had been prepping my kids for for a few weeks.  Those teeny tiny caterpillars we ordered in the mail, that had finally crawled to the top of the container to build their little sleeping bag chrysalises, were wiggling, and one had actually started to burst through.  We stood the children up on a chair, one at a time, to look in and see this amazing thing.  This science, this biology, this nature.  They were thrilled.  WE were thrilled.  It was a happy place.


The next day we came into the room to see that the first butterfly we had seen yesterday had struggled to get out.  He was stuck and seemed to have given up.  He was shriveled up a bit and looked hopeless.  Also, the other chrysalises were not seeming to progress and had stopped moving.  My technicians and I were broken-hearted.  What had we done wrong?  Why had they not changed properly from caterpillar to butterfly?  What more could we have done?

Once the kids came into the room we were busy rehearsing for our Spring program, so nobody seemed to notice the lack of life in the butterfly habitat.  There were a few minutes before the school talent show that we were going to attend, so I had a nice quiet moment with the kids explaining death, and animals, and insects.  It was sweet as they looked into my face and told about times they had found baby birds that had fallen out of nests, or had kittens that had died.  I love those impromptu teaching opportunities.  It is also one of my favorite things about being a mother.  Anyway, it was good, and on we went to the assembly, and then to the bus to go home.  My plan was to clean things up today as we started to prepare in earnest for our Spring program.

I came in and sat at my desk to check my email.  Looking into the sad little mesh butterfly house I saw that two of the butterflies had actually emerged and were starting to stretch their little butterfly legs and wings!  I was almost giddy with excitement, like when a prayer has been obviously answered.  I called to my technicians and we were thrilled about the news.  I asked Miss L if maybe we should take the little paper out that held the poor little guy that never broke out of his cocoon, and the two other coffin-like pods that seemed to be lifeless.  She suggested we wait and just see.  So wait we did.

Later today we were closing things up and I looked into the container to see that a third butterfly had come out, AND that the struggling one was still giving it his best shot.  There was movement, and when there is movement in a little butterfly house, there is hope.  I couldn't believe it.  I was completely ready to cut my losses and get unattached when things started to look up. I almost felt ashamed of myself for being ready to give up so quickly.

By the end of the day there were still just the three out of five chrysalises that had burst open with life, but now I am excited for tomorrow.  A miracle for my kiddos and for me to see this beautiful process of transformation in one of God's creations.

Then I left work today thinking about my 13 little caterpillars in my class.  How many times have people thought they couldn't learn, or grow, or progress?  And now look at them.  They are counting.  They are reading.  They are friends to each other and angels to me.  I love my little butterflies, with their brightly colored wings.  And as the school year draws to a close I unzip the top and hope they are ready to fly out on their own into the warm sun.

15 comments

misssrobin | May 13, 2010 at 9:20 PM

Such a beautiful story. Such a nice analogy. You made me tear up thinking of all the little caterpillars/butterflies I have nurtured over the years at church. I'm always nervous when they fly off into the world, worrying about the storms they will encounter. I just have to remember that they are His butterflies first and they were meant to be free.

The Way I See It | May 13, 2010 at 9:56 PM

That is so beautiful. I got completely caught up in the story and the absolute miracle of the insect butterflies and your kiddos.

Bossy Betty | May 13, 2010 at 10:20 PM

SO sweet and so true! Love the comparison!

AnneMarie | May 13, 2010 at 10:56 PM

Wonderful!

Heidi Ashworth | May 13, 2010 at 11:13 PM

Love this for so many reasons. Thank you so much for your comment on my blog today--it is always wonderful to know there is someone you love who gets it. : )

Melanie J | May 14, 2010 at 12:11 AM

My parents were both deaf and were both teachers. I have a soft spot in my heart for special ed kids after listening to years of their stories and their students. I love hearing you describe your experiences with them. I couldn't imagine anyone more perfect for the job.

LisAway | May 14, 2010 at 12:59 AM

What a perfect analogy and a neat experience with the butterflies. I'm so glad to hear that ALL of your butterflies seem to be coming out of their cocoons.

Jenny | May 14, 2010 at 6:28 AM

Touched my heart!

Luann | May 14, 2010 at 6:32 AM

I LOVE this story. Patience and faith. Brilliant.

Yesterday you were lighting on a purple plastic butterfly swatter of death, and today you have tales of delicate and beautiful butterflies full struggle and life.

You and your 13 are a blessing to each other.

Charlotte | May 14, 2010 at 7:58 AM

Perfect! The best teachers never do give up on those emerging butterflies, do they?

Barbaloot | May 14, 2010 at 9:08 AM

What a cool process to be a part of: both the kids and the butterflies! It's heartbreaking to see someone or something struggle, but nice that they have the chance to work for things.

Kimberly | May 14, 2010 at 4:08 PM

Oh that beautiful heart of yours...how it shines in your words.

wendy | May 14, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Oh boy, so true. We start in such a vulnerable state ---and with all the learning, teaching, experiencing, coaching, we HOPE they will be able to grow beautiful wings and fly on their own.
We hope
we Pray
and did I mention, we hope

Amber | May 14, 2010 at 11:16 PM

This is why special ed is the perfect profession for you.

The Crash Test Dummy | May 18, 2010 at 1:34 PM

Amen That was bee-U-tiful. You are so wise.

And how come missrobin is always first?