The Cricket and the Starfish
When my kids were little, we did all sorts of silly things for fun. Truth be told, I’m a kid at heart myself, so finding fun ways to see the world and make young children smile has always been very easy for me.
They’re only 11 and 14 now, but they’re also much older than you might expect kids their ages to be. We’re still a goofy lot… nonsense always has been and always will be our forte! We’ve all had some extremely close brushes with adulthood this past year, myself included. There’ll be none of that in this house! Don’t get me wrong, I’m an adult exactly as much as I need to be, but not a minute more than I have to be. My kids have structure and discipline, but structure and discipline are the roof and walls which make up the house; they aren’t the home. It’s the hearts and souls inside the house which make up the home. We have a delicious blend of young hearts and old souls here, and I intend to keep it that way.
A few days ago, I was at a local discount store and I heard the sound of crickets. At first, I thought it must be a recording because it was so out of place among the other sounds you hear in a discount store. I followed the sound to find myself in the sporting goods section, looking at huge cups of live crickets. Bait. I have neither malice nor love for crickets, but it just seemed so unnatural for them to be trapped in foam cups.
My first thought was that the kids would enjoy a rescue caper! My second thought was that they might find that silly because of their ages. My immediate, and most important, third thought? When did we grow up so much that I would even question such a thing as being too childish? Young at heart and childish are two very different things.
You only stop being young at heart on the day that you choose to allow the possibility that someone might see you as childish to stop you from acting young at heart. I am proud to report that that day will never come for me. Hopefully it will never come for my children either, and if it does one day ‘come for them’, it will have to go through me to get to them. I am not easily bypassed or pushed aside.
I talked all of this over with the boy, because it’s the type of thing we would have planned together in advance in the younger years so that his little sister could enjoy a fun adventure. Immediately and overwhelmingly he agreed that this was something we had not done enough of recently, and that we must make it so. Soon.
On our way home from other ‘keeping your heart young’ endeavors today, we stopped at said discount store to procure said crickets. 200 of them. 200 crickets. I can’t tell you how proud I am of the fact that I purchased 200 crickets today simply to keep us young. No matter how old you are, or how long you live, you’ve never before heard anyone else say that and you never will again. That’s how old souls and young hearts do things in this home!
Little Lady is growing up way too fast, and it was worth the cost of 200,000 crickets to see her face light up with the delight of a child enjoying one of our ridiculous adventures. The Boy enjoyed it just as much as we all always have, and we all played along with the ‘just act natural and pretend we’re buying crickets for bait’ charade until our casual demeanor become suspicious in and of itself. The fools at the discount store never suspected a thing! (Yes, we did consider freeing them within said discount store, and no we did not. Not this time, anyway.)
Ok we have 200 crickets. Phase I complete. What could Phase II possibly be, you ask? Well, just as we set the sun, we’re also responsible for planting spring crickets. All of them. Every one of you will at some point listen to crickets soothing the night outside your home or campsite sometime this summer. You’re welcome! Had we not released these 200 crickets into the wild (suburbia) on this day, you might have had to listen to… nothing. All summer long.
We let 100 go in the woods across the street from our home, and another 100 in our back yard. Already this evening I could hear them singing their song of freedom, thanking us for our efforts, and pledging their service until the fall. My kids are of course old enough now to know that I’m just painting a valiant picture of our evening’s nonsense, but they enjoyed it every bit as much as if they were young enough to believe that we planted crickets that created soothing summer sounds for all of North America. Honestly? You can’t prove that we didn’t! I also have to say that watching 200 crickets scatter into the grass was well worth the $12 we spent on them!
The whole adventure reminded me of the old parable of the boy and the starfish. The boy is walking along the beach as the tide retreats, throwing starfish back into the ocean before they die. An old man passes by and tells the young boy that he can’t possibly make a difference because there are thousands of starfish and miles of beach. The boy tosses another back, smiles, and says, “I made a difference to that one.”
The one cricket in the picture above? Yeah we made a difference to him. He went from being canned dinner for a fish to being free to roam for the rest of his days. Good stuff. I’m sure I’ll cuss him when he turns up in my basement! The real difference this act makes? It keeps hearts young. It doesn’t matter how many starfish or how many crickets the youth saves. What matters is that the youth remained young because of the act itself. The trick is to simply keep doing the things which keep us young at heart, and let karma extend the blessings to whichever crickets and starfish she chooses.
The most beautiful part of all of it is that it all comes down to choice. It seems that too many people choose to be the crotchety, nay-saying old man on the beach, even if they chose to become him by an accidental lack of diligence. I choose to remain the boy tossing starfish back into the ocean and freeing crickets, and I write these stories as reminders for myself along the way.
Cheers from The Uncommonly Crickets