Love at First Sight

When was the last time you noticed a displaced earthworm (perhaps on the concrete sidewalk) and felt the need to gently re-locate it? Now that the warmer weather is upon us it happens daily at our house. Yes, the worms have an advocate in the Trefz household, and his name is Sammy.

Sammy has been a friend of worms ever since he made their acquaintance. What’s odd is that, while most of his interests at this stage of his life reflect those of his older brother, his love of worms is all his own. Though Teddy would love to take credit for introducing Sammy to the worms and vice-versa, everybody knows that Teddy will not touch the things and has no interest in them whatsoever. Sammy’s wormoré is a great illustration of that irrepressible nurturing spirit that lives in him.

It all began just after he turned 3 last year. It was the beginning of summer, and time for Daddy to harvest some compost from the bin in the backyard. It’s a painstaking process that involves shoveling the rotted compost into a large sieve that strains out the finished compost from the larger parts that need to break down further. Sammy quickly discovered that earthworms and compost go together like bread and butter, and he couldn’t have been happier. It was like he had discovered a gold mine. Worms were everywhere: in the wheelbarrow, in the sieve, on the compost heap, in the grass…and one by one Sammy took his little friends (actually they were really fat and well-fed) and transported them to the vegetable garden. He remembered that we had told him that the worms are beneficial for the soil, and so the Great Worm Re-location began.

Being a bit of a neat-freak, I must admit to being slightly horrified initially. Seeing your toddler knee-deep in compost playing with fat, juicy, 6-inch-long earthworms is probably a stretch for even the most easy-going of mothers (which I am certainly not), but there was no way I was going to spoil his fun either. This day of playing with earthworms cemented their relationship, and though I had forgotten all about earthworms throughout the winter, Sammy most certainly had not.

Sammy has an earthworm radar. It’s a default setting on his motherboard, and it results in him seeing every worm on the ground, no matter its size, and feeling the need to pick it up and care for it. We had a warm spell during the winter, and didn’t he spot a live worm on a patch of bare ground somewhere. After carrying it around he made sure to deposit it in that same patch of soil, because that was its home. He told anyone who would listen about his most unusual find in the middle of winter.

Now that spring has officially arrived and the snow is gone for good (we hope), Sammy is finding earthworms everywhere. There’s a veritable worm-rush at our house: they’re on bare soil, underneath buckets or stumps, even under the carport after a good rain. He knows the worms don’t belong on concrete, so he will take the time before we head out to school (already in a rush, I might add) to gingerly pick up the worm that’s lying too close to the van’s tires and move it onto soil, where it belongs.

I recently moved a large stump to make room for the boys to swing, and lo and behold, there lay a good-sized earthen friend. Sammy forgot all about swinging as he played with his new pet. That poor worm was placed on the back of Sam’s little tricycle and given a ride, he was placed on a swing and given a push (this worm had already lived more than any of his tunneling brethren, I would think), and was played with until I’m sure he was on the brink of drying out or suffocating from lack of exposure to soil. Finally Sammy knew the worm had to go home, and placed him gently next to a little hole in the ground, willing him to go in. I’m happy to report that the worm survived – at least until the next hungry Robin finds him.

Thankfully Sam has not witnessed the carnage of a Robin-feed. I’m sure the day will come when we have to field that question and attempt to absorb the rush of emotion that is sure to ensue. Oh, the evils from which we have to shield our children.

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6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Cassie said,

    Brilliant Debbie as usual! I sincerely hope you are compiling these blogs into a book about advice and stories about child-rearing! I would buy it in a second!

    • 2

      Debbie said,

      The thought has certainly crossed my mind. The problem is that my fairy godmother hasn’t been around lately, making the expensive publishing process tricky. I’m hoping she’ll show one of these days…

  2. 3

    Kim said,

    oh Sammy… lol. The fact that he gave the worm a ride and a swing trip made me laugh out loud. He really does have a very soft heart!

  3. 5

    Sally Martens said,

    That´s so heartwarming! It reminds me of the time, when our children took care of the snails in our garden: baby snails had to be adopted by mama and papa snails, so whole families could be built and nobody would be lonely!

    • 6

      Debbie said,

      I love it! Unfortunately in our family Sammy is the lone crusader. Teddy’s too grossed out and Caleb would just love to squish those things between his pudgy fingers if he got the chance 🙂 Being a gardener, I am certainly glad that Sam has chosen worms and not snails. I could not stand him consorting with the enemy!


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