Sweetpea is in his creepy crawlies stage, the stage that I had been dreading since he was born, for I, like many prissy girls, am not a fan of bugs. On the other hand, boys love bugs, it is a universal rule. The slimier, the better. Nowadays, he will stop us every few seconds on our walk to point out every species of hairy, octo-legged, antenna wielding, multiple-eyed insects. But the one that fascinates him the most, more than the warrior spiders, Olympic grasshoppers, or demure ladybugs, are the caterpillars. And not just the caterpillars but the whole story of the transformation of the caterpillars into butterflies via their mysterious sojourn in a cocoon.
At his age, my favorite story was the ugly duckling, another story of transformation. The poor little ugly duckling who is made fun of by all the other ducks for not fitting in, being awkward, not getting things as quickly or gracefully as the others. But he finally grows up into a swan and finds a group of other swans who finally understand and appreciate him.
This got me thinking how the most popular children's stories are stories of transformation. Like the frog who turns into a prince, the little cinder girl who becomes a princess, or the little wooden puppet who becomes a real boy. There are so many like this. It is very understandable. After all, to quote one of my favorite fictional characters Arlen Faber, what are children but short, highly emotional beings who know nothing and have to navigate a sea of know it all giants who are (at least in their eyes), faster, taller, better and infallible. No wonder they relate to stories of transformation, just as they, little by little, and each day, transform just a little more into the version of themselves that they crave, whether it is a colorful insect or a long necked bird.
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