During the winter, we occasionally came across dead ladybugs. Each one was buried with due reverence in the flowerpot containing my little mango tree (which obediently died too eventually). A paper gravestone erected by Daddy still stands solemnly over the gravesite, "The death of Asha the ladybug. She will be missed." (I asked Anaya about names--apparently all of them were collectively named Asha.) Given the care each dead ladybug was given, I ascertained the live one I found this afternoon would be popular. "Hey, look, you guys," I called to the kids. "Here's a ladybug."
Three pairs of little feet thundered into the room, accompanied by squeals. I picked up the hapless beetle and handed it over to Anaya, who promised the boys they would have their turns soon too. "Hey ladybug," she shouted, "I'm gonna take you to see all of your friends." She paused. "They're dead."
Anaya dashed up to me a few minutes later holding a Play-Doh container. "Mommy!" she burst out. "I put the ladybug in here! And I put all the dead ladybugs in too. (Help us all--my daughter's a grave robber now.) Then when the ladybug tries to relate to the others, it will find out that they're dead. Then it will go back and tell all the other ladybugs, and then we will have thousands of ladybugs in our house!" She looked at me triumphantly. "Isn't that great?!"
It was useless to ask how it would tell all the other ladybugs, or point out that ladybugs don't actually relate in quite that way--not to mention that I don't really want thousands of ladybugs underfoot. (I know, I tried--why do I bother?) Soon she was exclaiming in delight that she had helped the poor bug "relate" to at least one of the dead ladybugs. She was confident this meant it would understand death and go advise the living about the realities of eternal sleep.
Apparently it soon tired of its "friends," as I overheard her passing out the recently exhumed bodies a few minutes ago. "Here's a dead ladybug for you, Skyler," she said, placing one in his damp little palm, "and I'll keep one for me."