Sam and I leave the house at the same time. I walk him to the end of our driveway, and we wait for the bus to pick him up and whisk him to school.
This morning, as we stepped outside, a grasshopper jumped off the door frame and onto his backpack. "Look," I said to him. "A grasshopper."
He bent to look at it. Then quickly became distracted, pulled on his shoes, and grabbed his scooter for one or two quick pre-school, extra-curricular laps of the driveway. I walked ahead of him to the gate to keep an eye out for the bus.
One doesn't actually have to keep an eye out for the bus. You can hear its deep diesel rumble from half a kilometer away, and as it rounds the corner and pulls onto our street, you can hear its distinctive horn bleat.
At the sound of the bleating, Sam zipped up next to me. "Dad, guess what?" he said.
"The grasshopper jumped onto my backpack and instead of shooing it away, Mr. Sundar when like this--" And Sam pinched is index finger and thumb together.
Mr. Sundar is our driver. He's been known to kick small puppies and try to grab goats from behind. He has an...interesting...relationship with nature.
Sam knew it was wrong to kill the grasshopper. I told him all of God's creatures are special. Sam added a caveat, "Except maybe wasps."
"Well...wasps are different," I tried to explain. "Wasps are dangerous, but not all wasps. Just wasps by our house. Other wasps that aren't bothering anybody, we leave alone, too."
He stood next to me, and we watched the bus back up down our street. An airplane flew overhead. It caught my eye and I looked at it soar through the sky. Then, I saw two birds, a smaller bird flapping its wings vigorously and a larger bird, an eagle or hawk, following it.
I kneeled next to Sam and pointed up into the sky, "Look!" I told him again. "It's a baby bird learning to fly and a mama bird following him." They wheeled in messy circles like that. Sam giggled. "It's just like when you were learning to ride your bike and I followed you around to make sure you didn't fall off."
"Yeah...," he breathed, then the bus pulled up, the door opened, I kissed him on the top of his poofy head, and he climbed up the steep stairs into the belly of the bus.
I saw him plop down in his usual spot next to one of his classmates, his eyes still focussed out the window, at the birds in the sky.
He turned to his friend and pointed out the window, showing the birds to him.
I feel a large part of my job as a father is to explain the world to him, to contextualize disparate experiences. I won two small victories this morning: Sam knows it is wrong to kill grasshoppers or, hopefully, any creature that is not bothering us, and to share with others, whether that means sharing or toy or the small wonders of the world, like a mama bird teaching its baby how to fly.