The fuzzy black caterpillar.
April 01, 2011

“Just living is not enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower.”
- Hans Christian Anderson

I left something outside on the porch to dry and when Donald collected it in the evening, there was a fuzzy black caterpillar on top.  “Hey there, little fellow,” my husband said.

We put him in a glass jar overnight and in the morning, as soon as Charlotte was awake, we brought the fuzzy black caterpillar to her.  He reared up and crawled around and she twisted her hands while he did and she smiled.  After a few minutes, we told her that we needed to bring him back outside.

Donald set him on the hollyhock plant beside the porch.  The leaves bent under his weight and he eagerly began to nibble.  Charlotte watched as he ate, in awe at him.  Then she waved good-bye and reached for my hand and I helped her inside the house.

We read Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar and made butterfly chalk art on the driveway while reciting a William Wordsworth poem “To a Butterfly,” a poem that I remember from my own childhood.  I showed her the signs for ‘caterpillar’ and ‘butterfly’ and we made shadow art in a cardboard box fort in the playroom.  On our afternoon walk, we admired every butterfly we saw.  The next day at the library, Charlotte and I lost ourselves in picture books about chrysalis and the children’s librarian taught us a song about caterpillars.

If this is what my daughter’s childhood is made of – fuzzy black caterpillars crawling on her pajamas in the early morning light and learning hand motions to a caterpillar song in the library – then I think I will have done something right.


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  1. By beyond on April 01, 2011

    that looks like a woolly bear caterpillar. when i was a couple of years older than charlotte, i had a small caterpillar farm that i remember vividly…

  2. By Cynthia Krajcarski on April 01, 2011

    I so badly want to have a caterpillar farm to that Isla can see that they turn into her favourite bug. She won’t touch a caterpillar, she squirms if we bring one near… I think if she sees that they turn into a butterfly, she will learn to embrace the caterpillar.

    My girl is a total girly girl… No bugs, no how, no way.

  3. By Bethany on April 01, 2011

    You continue to inspire and amaze me . Such a beautiful post. I believe through your writing - people will want and strive to be better parents.

  4. By Alicia S. on April 01, 2011

    This is exactly the way that I home pre-school my son. I wait for something to spark his interest and we fly with it as fast and as far as we can. Although his bug of choice so far is the Stink Bug, lol, not nearly as cute… :-P

  5. By Jessika on April 01, 2011

    A fuzzy black caterpillar was my very first pet of my own. My parents tell tales about how I dragged this poor guy around. “You loved him very much,“ they say.

    But then, trotting around in my toddler ways, one day he fell off my finger. Given my momentum, I couldn’t stop. Squish went the caterpillar.

    Apparently I was a very callus child who then went and found another. My parents were all prepared for the death talk. I just found a replacement. Thankfully, such heartlessness left me as I grew older when it came to pet management.

  6. By Amber on April 01, 2011

    Fuzzy caterpillars are one of my VERY favorite memories of childhood!

  7. By on April 01, 2011

    “I think I will have done something right,” Sarah says.

    Ya think, I say. What a delightful blog, Sarah, I have been reading since just after Charlotte was born. I take care of a toddler her age and have done so many times. Babies are the Best, aren’t they?

    @Alicia S—honey, you have got it knocked; keep up the good work.

    @Bethany—I agree completely, and hope that other parents are inspired on a daily basis to engage with their youngsters….

    and all the world’s children. Let’s strive for a better, saner, more peaceable kingdom. May each step we take Lead the way to Peace.

  8. By Lindsey on April 01, 2011

    Aaaaaah!! Just LOOK at her tiny double chin in that top left photo! LOOK AT IT.

    She is too adorable & I want to eat her all up.

    (Yes, I belong to that strange subsect of humans who are so overwhelmed at the cuteness of round-cheeked, chubby-thighed babies/toddlers that all a part of me wants to do is ingest them. Is there help for this?)

  9. By Lindsey on April 01, 2011

    p.s. My grandparents own 30+ acres out in the country and while I was growing up one of my most favorite things to do was to run around from wildbrushes to weeds finding the fuzzy black & orange caterpillars. I would hold them, have little chats with them & just imagine things of them. Why is it that caterpillars are kind of…magical?

  10. By Jill Anderson on April 01, 2011

    I love these pix. It is so much fun watching the curiosity of a child. :) My 22 month old son is so much fun to play with and to watch play.

  11. By dandy on April 01, 2011

    This post is magic.  The pictures are so sweet and I love how you made it part of her learning.

    ~sigh~  I want to stay home with my babe forever.

  12. By Widelawns on April 02, 2011

    Oh my goodness that is darling. When I was little I adored Wooly Bear caterpillars.

  13. By on April 02, 2011

    Gosh how I hate to sound so cheesy…but I do so wish, wish, wish that there were more moms and families like you and yours here where we live. I love to read your posts b/c it connects me in a very distant way to others like us here and shows me that there are others out there doing what we do. Loving their kiddos the way we do. Homeschooling. Experiencing each and every breathtaking moment with new eyes and excitement. Just lovely. And yes, you are doing everything right! What a beautiful life!

  14. By Molly on April 02, 2011

    I’m from a tiny town in NC and every year we have a “Woolly Worm Festival.“ http://www.woollyworm.com/

    Growing up I was obsessed with Woolly Worms!!! The other day we found one in the yard and we played and played with it…so much fun!

  15. By on April 03, 2011

    Precious. Now the bad news: when my youngest was that age someone enlightened me to the fact that caterpillars cute fuzz is very dangerous! The little fuzzy things, if gotten in one’s eyes, can blind a person. Urban Legend? I’m not sure. But even though I grew up “playing” with caterpillars…I kept them away from my kiddo.

  16. By on April 03, 2011

    Heart flips….

    I love this one.


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