Three year olds and Snails

He sat on my knee. It was nice to hold him close after the trying morning we had been through. He had been losing his temper over the tiniest of things. He didn’t want his toast cut in half, I broke his biscuit, I gave him the wrong shorts to wear. He didn’t want to wear his shark socks anymore.

I wont lie, I lost my temper and shouted at him a couple of times. He had purposely just done a wee in his shorts while outside in the garden. It was defiance to a tee.

He sat his bare skinny toddler bum on my knee and we looked at a snail on his plastic outdoor table. He asked “Mummy  will he waaaake UP??” “Yes I think he will”. We had found the snail relaxing in the lettuce from the fridge. I thought if I put him outside in the sun. The slimy creature might decide to come out from the cover of his shell if he felt safe and warm. To be sure after five minutes the shell began to slowly move.

I could see the small snail stick its foot onto the plastic table. Sealing himself onto the surface. This is his first time to see a live snail I thought to myself. I was excited to give him a little biology lesson on a real live specimen. We could then see the snail begin to poke its head out. First one antenna began feels its way out. then the other. We watched the eye stalk filling the antenna a dark string with a small eye, an earth bound alien in our midst.

I loved the shadow of its tentacles on the table as the snail began to crawl along the table. “He’s hungry mummy, I give him this”. He tries to give the snail a small crumb of his biscuit that I had accidentally broken in two. “Snails eat leaves Baby”. He runs over to a nasturtium plant and picks two leaves.

The dog comes over like a huge hairy giant and tries to eat our snail friend. Quick as a flash snail takes cover in its shell. We wait for the snail to come back out. “He is scared mummy”. “Yes he needs to wait until he feels safe again”.

Slowly we again start to see the tentacles feel their way out of the safety of its shell. ‘I would love to run in and get my camera’, I think. No, I berate myself, enjoy this moment. His curiosity, the weight of him on my knee, the fascination in his face, his soft perfect skin as I kiss his cheek.

The snail moves surprisingly quickly towards the green leaves. “He’s hungry mum”. The sail arrives to the green organic spot on the fake plastic table. He slithers onto it. “He is eating it mummy”.

A beautiful shiny blue pearl- like trail is left on the leaf as the snail explores. “Hello snail” He says. I tell him the sail carries his house on its back. He uses it for protection. I tell him the snails antennae can guide it to where it wants to go. I point out the head and the tail and the sparkly trail it leaves behind as it moves off the leave in search of shelter.

I leave him and the snail as I go to check on dinner cooking in the kitchen.

What a lovely moment we had there I think to myself. After being so cranky with each other its just what we needed.

Mummy he still moves when I squash him

What…….

He squashed it, our biology lesson, our special moment.

There we have it, parenting a three year old in a squashed snail shell

Magically beautiful one moment, tragically sad  the next.

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