Niki Tehranchi
by Niki Tehranchi

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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Azadeh Azad

Interesting observation

by Azadeh Azad on

Dear Niki,

I think adults too love the stories of transformations, as these stories offer hope in the possibilities of a better tomorrow. I am fascinated by the concept and stories of transformation because I hate sameness and stagnation. Transformations make life exciting and worth living.

As a child, my daughter too was fascinated by caterpillars. I read her all the stories you mentioned, plus a story book about a girl who lost her grandmother the same day her pregnant cat gave birth to many kittens. The ultimate forms of transformation.

Thanks for the delightful blog.




Niki Tehranchi

No way!

by Niki Tehranchi on

He can have all the creepy pets he wants as long as they stay where they belong, in our yard outside.  Fortunately (for him though unfortunately for me), our neighborhood is home to a diverse and populous wildlife.  We have personally had the pleasure of hosting numerous ants, bees, scorpions, snakes, spiders, mosquitos, daddy long legs, snails, grasshoppers, frogs, crickets, lizards, just to name a few off the top of my head, in every nook and cranny of our house and backyard.  And there are delightful rodents, mammals and feathered friends too.  If the Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History is looking for a branch in the San Fernando Valley, they have to look no further than our home! :-)))

Esfand Aashena

Niki jaan we all know what he wants for his birthday now!

by Esfand Aashena on

A nice aquarium with Lizards, bearded Dragons and baby Tarantulas!  Perhaps you can also throw in a corn snake so in a few years when he trades in his old box for a larger box for a rat eating Python he is fully qualified! 

I know few boys in our circle of friends and famly whose famlies are terrified of their boys' "pets"!  They'll grow out of it and it is good to appreciate nature.

BTW the ugly duckling story don't work on boys!  They're into Mighty Ducks!   

Everything is sacred