My oldest daughter, Jay, has High Functioning Autism and has a slight obsession with animals. We used to play a game during car rides called "I am Thinking of an Animal" which required one person to give three clues about an animal for the rest of the family to guess. We had to stop playing that game because no one could keep up with the amount of intricate information Jay would know about animals. Like the time that her clues consisted of: it is a mammal, it swims in a river, and it is pink. Now, maybe you have more knowledge than I do floating around in your brain but for the life of me, I could not figure out what animal she could be talking about. We finally gave up and she proudly exclaimed, "It's a river dolphin!" Huh? I am embarrassed to say that I secretly didn't believe her, went home & looked it up on the Internet. Sure enough, there is such a thing as a River Dolphin and it can turn pink due to a dietary supplement of shrimp. My poor youngest daughter took to making up animals just to be able to compete with her sister. It was then that I realized we would have to find another family car game.
Jay particularly shows a great amount of interest in amphibians and is contantly trying to:
catch them: by grabbing a lizard's tail, which it will immediately dispose of and leave a wiggling appendage for my daughter to inspect and give me a detailed description of...yuck!
play with them: letting it crawl up her arm and dive to the ground in an apparent suicide attempt.
save them from the dogs: by tossing them over the backyard fence. I can't possibly imagine what goes through their minds as they free fall towards the leafy wooded area.
She has the best of intentions, like the time I caught her holding a toad by it's front legs and gently swinging it back and forth through the sprinkler to "give it a bath". I know, with friends like that, I am pretty sure the toads and lizards in my yard aren't too concerned with natural predators. I am horrified by her actions and quickly let her know what would have been a better action (gently carrying the toad to the front yard, not grabbing lizards by the tail because even though their tails will grow back it cannot possible pleasant for them, or leaving toads alone because I pretty sure they don't need to bathe). I have nightmares that I am raising the real life version of Darla from Finding Nemo.
When do we begin to realize that the best of intentions can be the opening to the worst of results? I know as an adult, I tend to think and rethink possible consequences to my actions, especially the actions that stem from good intentions. I have learned over the years that just because my heart is in the right place does not mean that the next person will feel the same way and I analyze that to a point of ridiculousness. On the flip side, children run haphazardly through life, usually trying to save the world one toad at a time and I wonder how we teach our children to be cautious in their righteousness without crushing the spirit from which their actions are made. I am a firm believer that we should always look out for the underdog but still be aware that sometimes the underdog will bite you anyway. It is a conundrum and one I don't know that answer. Instead, I will keep an eye out whenever Jay is outside if you will take the time to say a quick prayer for the amphibians in my yard...they need it.