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Waiting for the Monarch

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I have not forgotten about our chrysalis. Although a monarch chrysalis, in nice warm weather, normally gestates about two weeks, my life went into spin cycle right after the last chrysalis post, with multiple speaking engagements at far-flung places.

So picture Wayne making a bead curtain with his fingers, and time-travel with me back to the caterpillar Liam named Combo (one of my pet names for him, as it happens). Combo went into J formation, split his skin down the back, and became a sea-green chrysalis, which then hung for two weeks. We almost forgot about it, but then one day Combo's chrysalis went slightly transparent, and within a few hours it went completely dark.
The chrysalis covering goes from opaque to transparent, and the building color of the monarch's wings and body shines through. In this picture, you can see where the butterfly's legs have pulled away from the outer shell, giving it a whitish look. Something's about to go down.

Liam was on fire. He kept a close eye on Combo all through the predawn hours as we got ready for school.
Much as we willed it to be so, I knew that Combo wouldn't emerge before the bus came for Liam at 8:05.

So we made consolation pancakes, and Liam got to flip them. This one is just about ready to flip.Go Shoomie, go!

Well done, Chef Shoom.
Finally, the time came to take Liam to the bus. I drove down the driveway, holding Combo on his twig aloft in one hand while negotiating the bumps and curves. I didn't know when he might hatch, and I wasn't going to let him out of my sight for a moment.
Liam and I took Combo on the bus to show the kids, he knowing that the chrysalis would be a butterfly by the time he came home that afternoon. It would be three more hours before the butterfly emerged, and I fought with myself the whole time. Should I have kept them home to see this miracle, this thing that means so much more than math and social studies?

Yes. I wish I had kept them here to see it.

Like crazy.

The photos in the ensuing posts will have to suffice. There will be other summers and other monarchs, but this one was special.

We await the new monarch.


Oh, those decisions! That face! I'm guessing this was quite a day for all of you. I am also willing to bet that you'll have a much more vivid memory of your decision to send the kids off to school than they will. I think that kind of retrospective heartache is the mark of the best mothers; which means their kids never feel most of it. That and carrying butterfly chrysalises onto the bus for show and tell in the morning! Very cool.

I can see the note from home:

"Dear teacher,

Please excuse Liam's absence from school today. He stayed home to watch Combo the caterpillar emerge from its chrysalis.

Science Chimp, aka Liam's mom"

Does the entire school just shake their collective head at you?

These posts are fascinating.


Maybe you could negotiate a home/school connection for events like this? As a teacher, I know I would certainly find a way to incorporate some fabulous writing/reading lessons that could be used for assessment.

Awww.... if only. I thought you were going to say that just as he was getting on the bus...
There will be more to come.

Liam's face is so darned cute! I laughed out loud at the photo of the chrysalis on the hood of your car :o) I understand why you wished to keep Liam home!

this is so cool...i remember watching one with my dad oh so many years ago. i have since seen others but that first one remains so special in my memory. and that's a great pancake liam has made! kids love to make shaped pancakes, don't they?

your butterfly pictures are fantastic!

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