"A butterfly lands where it pleases and pleases where it lands." --Anonymous
It was a making-memories kind of day. My sister and I took our girls to Callaway Gardens, which is made up of thousands of acres of flowers and plants and several attractions. That morning, we’d enjoyed the beach at the lake, and now we were going to the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center.
My little girl, a five-year-old, had on a cute red top and matching blue and red plaid shorts. Her cheeks were pink from the sun, and her smile was a few teeth short. Fun-loving and energetic, she enjoyed making friends, having new experiences, and being outside. But she did not like bugs. Not at all.
I told her that butterflies aren’t really bugs. I reminded her of what she’d learned in pre-K: butterflies don’t bite; they won’t hurt you; they are our beautiful friends. She wasn’t so sure, but I just knew we’d enjoy the butterfly center.
An indoor conservatory, the center was filled with tropical plants that butterflies love to eat. The naturalist told us that they’d sometimes land on the ground, so we had to watch our step, and they might even land on us if we were lucky.
Walking along the pathway with my sister and her girls, we watched the beauties flutter by.
“Look how pretty that one is!” I’d say. “See that one? It’s resting.” My usually enthusiastic daughter was quiet and timid.
Apparently one butterfly fact had flown out of my mind earlier: they can see colors, and they are attracted to certain ones. Like red.
I was following a big Blue Morpho when my daughter made a strange sound to my right. I looked over and saw that a black-and-white one had landed on her arm, next to her sleeve, which was red.
“Wow! That’s cool,” I said, stepping toward her.
She was staring, wide blue-eyed, at the butterfly when one of its legs moved, like it was going to crawl up her arm. And she screamed.
What a scream it was: a loud, long piercer that scared everyone in the center, including the butterflies (oh yeah, they can hear too).
I shooed the poor creature off her arm, but she kept on screaming. Other children looked at her in puzzlement; their mothers looked at me in irritation. I quickly shooed my girl out of the butterfly center.
We sat down on a bench underneath a huge photo of a butterfly on the wall. Hugging her close, I tried to reason with her: remember when you learned about them in pre-K? They don’t bite; they won’t hurt you; they are our beautiful friends.
She did not believe me. She was not going back into that place with all those flying bugs. No way. So we settled in to wait until her aunt and cousins came out.
I thought about that tranquil setting filled with beauty and butterflies, and then her scream, which was so unexpected, piercing the quiet—and I confess: I found it terribly funny.
I started laughing. It soon became a clutching-your-belly kind of laughing, complete with tears in the eyes. Needless to say, she didn’t appreciate it.
Feeling like a bad mommy, I apologized, hugged her, and tried hard to swallow any more guffaws. But by then she’d calmed down and was asking to go to the gift shop.
I’m happy to report that, now a teenager, she is not scarred by the experience: either the butterfly or the laughter.
So, although I agree in general with the quote above—"A butterfly lands where it pleases and pleases where it lands”—I do know of one little girl who wasn’t exactly thrilled when it happened to her.
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