Hello World

Hello World


“I just want to say goodnight to my lady b… I mean desk. Then I will go right to sleep.”

Not really listening to her daughter, Lexi replied, “Okay, Alice. Remember, tomorrow is a school day and you need extra sleep.”

“I am back in bed now. Goodnight Mommy.”

Alice couldn’t stop thinking about her ladybug, which was in a little jam jar with holes in the metal top. Earlier in the year, the jar had housed a hurt moth. Now it was home to the ladybug Alice had named Hello. The jar was next to her in bed. 

“Goodnight, Hello. I’ll see you in the morning,” Alice whispered.

Alice was happy to have found her tiny red and black friend. She loved the secrecy of it all too. Hello had been in the kitchen. Alice had saved her on a paper towel all by herself as her mother and father Randall and Lexi Barnes read the newspapers.

Alice’s parents read all the time. They had recently moved to Greenwich from New York City and were not nature lovers.  Alice knew they would not be pleased to find a ladybug in her bed. 

The jar was perfect for Hello. Alice had picked a few leaves and blades of grass outside to make her feel at home. She loved that she had been able to do it all without anyone else being in it. Although her parents wouldn’t be keen on Hello, Alice just loved her. She fell asleep smiling.

“Good morning, Alice. Time to wake up.”

Popping up like toast, Alice quickly found her jar. There was Hello, on a wrinkled leaf, looking beautiful.

She quickly got into her clothes, washed her face, brushed her teeth and combed her shiny dark hair. “I’ll let you go before I leave for school today, and I’ll look for you when I come back. I loved having you here.”

Alice held the jar carefully as she walked down the stairs into the kitchen. She poured raisin bran into her favorite bowl with butterflies on it. As she added the milk, she noticed, out of the corner of her eye, an orange and black can of ant spray. She was horrified. Alice whispered to herself. “My mother and father kill ants?”

“Don’t worry ants. I will protect you.” Alice ushered two very fast moving big ants out the back door in a green paper cup.  “There you go. Tell your family to not come in here. Stay outside.” 

Alice thought of all the living things she knew of. “I wish you could all be safe. I love you all.” 

“Five more minutes, Alice!” Her mother called from upstairs. 

Alice took Hello’s jar outside. She found a perfect spot for her among some blue pansies in a stone planter. Alice tipped the jar and let Hello rejoin the world. Hello opened her tiny wings and flew slowly away. 

“Let’s go, Alice. You can look at the flowers later.”

Carrying her school bag to the car, she thought of how lucky she was that her mother and father had moved to Connecticut. 

‘Mommy do you like any bugs?”

“Not particularly.” 

The rest of the way to the Little Farms Nursery School was spent in silence. Turning into the school’s driveway, Alice saw Josh. He was smiling. 

“Alice, I found us worms.” Two brown earthworms wiggled in his gentle hands.

Letting herself out of her car seat, Alice grinned at her friend. Lexi opened her car door and eyed the worms disgustedly.  Walking both children into the building, she asked, “Are you allowed to bring those things inside?”

“Sure, Mrs. Barnes,” Josh replied. “It’s early and we can stop at the science room.”

“We can put them in our class garden. They will love it there,” Alice said, almost as if she were a very short teacher.

“Let’s watch them before we let them go,” Josh said. 

“Oh, of course. We have to do that. I love how wiggly they are.”

Stopping at the science room door, Lexi patted her daughter. “Goodbye Alice. See you at noon.”

“Okay Mommy. Please don’t spray anything. If you see bugs in the house, please let them outside.” 

Turning to Josh, Alice explained, “My mother doesn’t like bugs. She has ant spray. I try to save them.” 

“Wow, really?” Thoughtfully, Josh added, “She got the right kid. You can teach her things. When lightning bugs come out, you can save one. She might love the little light it gives off. Then she’ll be hooked on bugs.”

In the science room, Mrs. Perkins let them feed the fish. They took turns tapping small amounts of dried krill into the big tank. The fish smelled it quickly. 

“Gus is growing a lot. Tubby, too,” Josh noticed gleefully. 

Alice thought again of the can of ant spray. She was puzzled at how different she was from her mother and father. 

“Mrs. Perkins, I’ll always love bugs and animals, right?”

“You’ll love them more all the time. 

“When we lived in New York, my mother and father didn’t like animals. Now they hate bugs. I love taking care of bugs. I never want to be the way they are.”

“Alice, keep telling your mother and father about the living things you like. They can learn a lot from you. They will be happier feeling connected to animals, as you do. Never give up on them.” She looked at the clock. “Time to put those worms in your garden. They’ll help your plants a lot.” 

Later that morning, Thomas found a spider in the dramatic play area and called for Alice. “Please come, Alice. There is a Daddy Long Legs by the doll bed.” 

Bringing a tissue, Alice calmly picked up the spider, opened up the back door and let him out. She watched as he scuttled away. “Goodbye, little spider.”

Back at the house, Lexi was recycling newspapers. On her way to the recycling bin, she saw Hello’s jar by the back door and realized Alice must have had a little visitor. The butterfly bowl was in the sink. The milk and the cereal box had been put away. Lexi thought, “What a responsible, gentle person my little girl is.” She realized that Alice had not been looking at pansies earlier; she had been releasing some little creature who had spent the night. 

Catching sight of the orange and black can, she remembered Alice’s plea to save bugs. She thought of the children’s excitement as Josh told Alice about the worms he had found. Loving nature was part of her little girl’s life, and Lexi realized she was not encouraging this interest at all. Dropping the spray can into the recycling bin, she told herself, “We moved out of the city so Alice could have more time to be outside in nature. She loves her life. Don’t be a pain about bugs and stuff. You might even start to like them.” 

Lexi drove back to school to pick up Alice. She slowed down to let a few geese cross the road by the park. Parking her car, she saw a mother looking closely into her little boy’s hand. He had found part of a robin’s egg. “It is a treasure,” his mother said, delightedly. 

Lexi felt an unfamiliar but definite kinship to that mother. She spotted Alice’s green shirt and found her daughter carefully observing a spider web on a bush. “Mommy, look! Isn’t it beautiful? The spider wove it all by himself. That’s a lot of work.” 

Lexi was aware that her daughter was in perfect sync with this natural extended family.

“Yes, Alice, it is beautiful,” she said, looking at the web with amazement. We won’t disturb it. Are you ready for lunch?” 

Taking her mother’s hand, Alice smiled. She felt something magic was beginning to happen. “Mommy, I’m so hungry,” she said. She wondered if after lunch, she would find Hello again.

Written by: Anne Martine Cook, Managing Partner & Mom, with 40+ years experience teaching nursery school children.

We welcome your comments and questions.

Originally published May 2014.