When I was pregnant with my first child a colleague told me that the most important thing she could advise about parenting was to put my baby on a schedule. I even read a book she recommended, but I really wasn’t able to do it when he was so little. Then my 2nd child was born when my first was 14 months old. By then, he was on a strict schedule, so it was easy to just incorporate my new baby to that schedule. Now that I have 3 I think I would completely lose my mind if I didn’t have a schedule. No matter what we do, my kids are eating at 5pm, having milk at 6pm, and upstairs for the bedtime routing between 7-7:30….asleep by 8pm.
Bedtime by 8pm helps me to keep my sanity with 3 kids under the age of 5 home all day all summer. Unfortunately for them…..they go to bed before sunset, and before the lightning bugs come out. I’m from Long Island and know they are more commonly referred to as fireflies, but I’ve grown up knowing them as lightning bugs. I joke that my oldest is going to grow up to be an entomologist because he just loves learning about bugs. And I never even knew that lightning bugs are beetles, and I think I read in one of his books that there are more beetles on this planet than any other life form. Oh, and ladybugs are beetles too! I didn’t know that either. So, the kids keep asking if they can stay up late to catch some. But by 8:30 they’re done. I’ve tried letting them stay up but it just doesn’t work for us.
So, I had (what I thought was) a brilliant idea……to catch a few lightning bugs in a jar so the kids could see the glowing in the middle of the night if they woke up. I found a mason jar and punched holes in the top for air. Then I looked online and read that they need a moist paper towel and some grass. So, I was so proud of myself, catching 5 of 6 of them the first night and putting them on their nightstand. Well, of course…..the kids slept until morning and didn’t even notice the jar. But they had fun watching them during the day. I told the kids that we could only keep them one day and I would set the free right after bedtime.
Well, at bedtime I expected they would start lighting up if the room was dark. But they didn’t. They light up slightly when we moved the jar around, but I was hoping for a brilliant light show! So, after a few moments of minor glowing I tucked the kids in and set our new friends free (who were all named Lightning Star). About an hour later I caught a new jar full of bugs for my boys. All three kids enjoyed watching them during the day but once again they had stage fright and were pretty dimmed at bedtime. I don’t know if it’s just that they can’t fly or they aren’t outside, but the kids are enjoying them. And every night when I tuck them in they ask that I catch a new batch for the next day.
I think I may have gotten myself trapped in a cycle of catch and release but I’m happy the kids are enjoying them. One day they’ll be old enough to stay up past 8pm and I may long for the days of catching them myself. I have to admit that I do really enjoy putting on my flip-flops and heading outside right after sunset to chase after them with my jar. I’m reminded of 4th of July when I was a kid… running around with my brother and cousins on the lawn trying to catch them in my hands.