Friday, 6 February 2009
Things my four-year-old knows
Lately The Girl has been into protection, and wants to know how animals defend themselves.
Today we saw a flock of starlings congeal, stretch and twist like Silly Putty against a hawk, and I explained that the predator can’t pick out individuals in the mass. There is safety in numbers.
A little later she asks about rabbits. I tell her that grass-eaters – rabbits, antelope, kangaroo -- must live in the open, so they have big ears and are always ready to sprint.
What about crawling animals, that can't sprint or fly? I ask. What are some things they do to stay safe?
She loves these, and goes through the list. Hedgehogs curl into spike-balls. Porcupines have quills. Pangolins wear armour. She loves that some snakes spit, that some frogs are fluorescent to tell everyone how yucky they taste.
The skunk is her favourite, and she re-enacts with toys how they make mean predators stinky.
“Could a skunk ever do that to me?" she asks nervously.
They're not in Ireland, honey, only in America. And they're shy, so you rarely see them. And if you did see them, they're peaceful unless you scare or hurt them, and I know you won't. Just let them do their job.
“I promise, Papa.”
Photo: The girl walking along a country trail on a frosty morning.