I have been intrigued by a book my sister-in-law has been reading about our children being “nature deprived.” The book is provocatively titled Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Apparently, we have so little contact with nature these days, that we have become scared of the natural world and our kids are missing out from the experiences that so much of our poetry and literature is based on, not to mention just missing the joy of being outside.
I intend to read the book eventually, but she has had me thinking about it the meantime. I’m not sure, though, if I have carried the idea too far.
Yesterday, I found a dead robin in our backyard. I couldn’t believe that my bird-loving son had missed it. Just minutes earlier he was playing right where the robin lay. I called him outside to look and before I could tell him not to touch it, he bent and picked it up. I closed my open mouth and thought, “Well, there is always soap and water.”
He held the bird, rocked its loose head back and forth, touched its beak, and thoroughly examined him. He decided a burial at sea would be appropriate for the bird, so we took the bird to the nearby canal and ceremoniously tossed him in. Meanwhile, I was constantly monitoring my son just in case he was going to rub his eyes, pick his nose, or stick his fingers in his mouth.
Afterwards, hearing the soap and water running and feeling satisfied that I had let my son pick up a dead bird, I kept reassuring myself that the robin had died of old age and probably in the intervening moments that my son had gone inside and I had gone outside. He was large, and well formed, and generally healthy looking, excepting of course, that he was dead…he certainly couldn’t have died of a species-jumping virus such as BIRD FLU…could he??!
Maybe I need to just go read the book. Surely the author suggests that we interact with dead animals from a safe distance.