In the morning, I heard a bloodcurdling little-girl scream from the bedroom followed by, "MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!!!!!!!"
I calmly walked over to see what the panic was about. I was sure it was nothing traumatic (unless you consider the bug's feelings) and I was right. There was the tiniest two inch grasshopper sitting on the floor, with Olivia dancing around it and pointing.
"It's a grasshopper, Hon. You have seen that before," I chuckled.
Olivia followed my cue and converted her energy to interest. "Can I keep it as a pet? Please?" she begged.
"Just for the day," I relented. "But then you have to let it go tonight."
"Whyyyyy? I just want a pet!" whined my daughter, as if having a 70 pound dog, cat, six bowls of fish, and a tank of shrimp isn't enough.
"Just today," I said firmly, and left.
Later that morning the conversation resurrected between Olivia and my dad. "What is it going to eat?" my dad pointed out. "I don't know what grasshoppers eat, and you need to feed it."
Nobody in the house knew what grasshoppers eat, and most importantly, I do not care what they eat because I will not be feeding it. I reminded her she had to release it back to nature tonight. She complained back at me.
I happened to be baking cookies. "If you love it, set it free, because it needs to live outside, Sweetie. Besides, I will trade you the life of one grasshopper for a coconut macaroon," I offered.
That took all of three seconds. She raced out the door and reappeared in five minutes. She showed it to the neighbor kids first then came home. "I let it go, Mommy!" she confirmed.
"Great, Honey! That's so wonderful of you. That was so nice to that bug," I complimented.
"I want to cash in on my cookie now," she reminded.
So I see. The lesson is less about the value of life and love, and more about motivation by bribery.