First of all, my apologies for putting this post up a day late. You know how it is with all the 4th of July celebrations; by the end of the fireworks display, it's so late that all you want to do is get everyone, including yourself, to bed. Yup, we did all the typical Independence Day activities: the barbecue, the flag decorations, the red-white-and-blue outfits, the fireworks.
But early in the morning we got to have a small, special celebration of our own, one that I thought exemplified the spirit of the holiday more than any other thing we did that day. On the 4th of July we let loose the painted lady butterflies that we had been raising from caterpillars.
At first, the kids were quite resistant to the idea; after all, they had only emerged from their chrysallids a couple of days earlier, and they wanted to keep them a bit longer. The kids had named all five of them (Flo, Jo, Mo, Ho and Po) and had gotten quite attached to them, so there were lots of tears and protests involved ("But they like being with us!" "Who's going to take care of them?").
But Alfie pointed out (and this is why I love the man) that painted lady butterflies can travel thousands of miles in their 2-week lifespan -- and they had already been in our butterfly habitat for several days, so they had a lot of catching up to do. We asked the kids, how would you feel if we kept you in your room forever and all you wanted to do was run around the grass and play?
More crying ensued, but with the tears came understanding: if we love them, we have to let them go. So on July 4th, we gave these amazing creatures back their independence.
Two of the butterflies left as soon as we unzipped the door. Three stayed a bit longer. They were still there about fifteen minutes later, when we left for all the 4th of July celebrations. By the time we returned home after the fireworks, the habitat was empty. But this morning, we discovered that one of the butterflies had returned to the habitat! Now the kids think that the butterflies like to go off during the day to play and find food, then return to the habitat at night. Whether that's true or not, now we're all happy that the butterflies are free at last.