Two years ago, my fabulous grandsons were visiting when I was in the middle of assembling audio/video segments for my humanitarian project, 10 Million Clicks For Peace. I decided to interview them with the hope I would get a “pearl” or two of youthful wisdom on the subject of peace.

I brought my elder up to the office to record first. The “all- boy”, comedic, Corbin, gave some fairly astute answers to my questions considering he was only seven at the time.

Then came his year-younger, more reflective brother, Cameron. This little guy is quite the deep thinker. I eagerly awaited the kinds of responses he would have. What I didn’t expect was his very first answer.

Cameron, what does peace mean to you?”

I could see the wheels turning as he slightly cocked his head in thought and after thirty or so seconds he looked me straight in the eyes and exclaimed with all the enthusiasm he could muster…

“DON’T SQUISH BUGS, PAPA!”

Now, that might seem somewhat comical even if you don’t know why he would say such a thing so, here’s a little background.

A few years earlier, the boys were at my place playing outside. Being the nervous maternal Virgo I tend to be when they’re in my care, I check on them often.

On this occasion I caught both of them catching and torturing as many insects as they could possibly hunt down. I brought them both inside and sat them down to read my riot act about respecting nature and all creatures no matter how great or small.

I recall going so far as to offer something like “what if there were giants in the world and we were like little insects to them. Would you want them to come and squish you”?

Well, I knew instantly that Cameron clearly recollected that lecture and I couldn’t help but lose it completely at the mere utterance , “Don’t squish bugs!” I laughed so hard I couldn’t complete his interview!

Fast forward to just a few weeks ago. I was taking care of my two fine young gentlemen again while their mother was vacationing in Europe. Single-mom Sara has provided a wonderful, and nurturing home for her beloved boys and it just happens to include a pool with a deck and landscaping that covers the entire backyard. Not a blade of grass to be cut!

Needless to say, both boys swim like fishes, but with this wonderful home waterpark, vigilant Papa is deckside every moment they’re in the water.

Corbin is a prolific diver and even created his own “ohm dive”. In mid-air he crosses his ankles, and with outstretched arms forms a circle with his thumb and index fingers and then, in the perfect yoga position, closes his eyes and chants “ohm” just as he thunders into the water. Always the comic!

Antics aside, what I really noticed, and what tickled me pinker than pink, was that without any suggestion, both boys took great pains using the pool skimmer to rescue any bug they found flailing, doing the backstroke in the chlorinated water. Stinging bee and harmless butterfly alike, they would scoop it out of the water and gently place it in one of the planted areas.

I have childhood memories that are so vivid I will never forget them. I believe one of those memories for Corbin and Cameron, will be our talk about respecting all living creatures. My great hope is that this early reverence for the likes of insects will remain part of their lives.

A famous song from Crosby Stills and Nash almost four decades ago has it:
Teach your children well…”, and we must.

Teach them to not squish bugs and be good stewards of planet earth, leaving us secure in the knowledge they will go on to teach their children well.

Isn’t that really one of the blessings we grandparents pray for?
©Rick Beneteau


Rick Beneteau is co-founder of The Movement of Change.
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