Worms (and Flossing)

An encounter today…

Walking from campus to downtown, I see a group of young children and their caretaker outside the Y Annex. They are looking down at the sidewalk excitedly.

“What’s all the fuss? I ask.

A little girl runs up to me, grabs me by the hand, and tugs me over to where they are looking. “We found a worm!”

“Oohhh. Well. Let’s have a look.” They all point, and sure enough, there’s a worm right at the edge of the sidewalk. The worm is dead.

“What is it doing there?” they ask.

“Well, the worms dig down, down into the dirt. But when it rains, the water pours into their little tunnels and they can’t breathe, so they come up to the surface for air.”

“Ohhhh”, they exclaim in unison. “And why is he still here?”

I did not want to say the worm was dead. “I don’t think that worm is feeling well at all.”

Another child squealed “Here’s another. Here’s another.”

This one was alive on the sidewalk. “See?” I said, “This worm is trying to wriggle back to the lawn so it can burrow back down into the ground.”

“Ohhhh”, they exclaim in unison.

“That way he’ll be safe and he won’t get eaten.”

They are shocked. “Who will eat the worm?” they ask.

“Robin. Robin will eat the worm.”

“Robin who?”

I point up into the trees. “Robin the bird.”

“Ohhhh”, they exclaim in unison. One little boy chimes in “Can I help this worm get to the grass?”

“Sure” I say. “Pick him up very, very gently and put him on the lawn.” The little boy does just this.

“There. Now the worm can burrow down and escape.”

“The bird won’t eat it now?”

“Yes. You’ve rescued the worm!”

All the children like this idea – that they have rescued the worm.

We all said goodbye and I went on my way, but I’d have loved to have spent more time with them.


On a very different note: In a coffee shop, I observed an enormous human being, flossing her teeth with the string of her tea bag.