Thursday, September 6, 2018

What's in a Roly Poly's name?

The Roly Poly habitat Lincoln created for his Isopod friends.
Lincoln sauntered into the kitchen this morning, holding a lively roly poly on the back of his hand with a semi-toothless grin on his face.

"Mom! Look! This is Spotback! See how he has one grey spot in the middle of his back? I found him all alone in the garden, so I decided to take him in so he wouldn't be alone. I think Roly Polys get lonely, don't you? I think he might have been sick when I found him because I read that sometimes Rolys get white when they aren't doing well, but he is doing well now. Look at him crawling! He is adventurous!"

"I love that you have names for your Rolys, Linc. And I love that you care about each one and notice things about their lives. What are the names of your other rolys?"

He proceeded to tell me that he "hadn't named that many," but he did have:
  • Spots - "With one lighter and one darker spot."
  • Blackback
  • Matchy - "He looks just like another Roly Poly that Atley has."
  • Edward
  • Fred
  • Sleeper - "He's not that active."
  • Little Digger
  • Lineback - "He has a little line that goes all the way down if you look carefully."
  • Key locker - "Look at him from the side, it looks like he has lots of keys on him."
Did you know that your garden variety Roly Polys (aka Pill bugs, Doodle bugs, etc.) each look unique and behave differently from each other?

My seven year old son does.

Maybe it seems silly, but in that moment this morning, watching him talk about each Roly Poly's name, I saw something great in him. A spark of something ancient and divine. Something akin to when Adam named all the animals in the Garden of Eden. This moment, like too many others I haven't taken the time to document, reminded me that my children have great gifts and lessons to teach me.

It reminded me of the moment in Patricia Polacco's lovely picture book, Luba and The Wren, where Luba's insatiable parents - after receiving increasingly greater and larger-than-life requests as fulfilled by an indebted and magical Wren - discover that their request to become "like the Gods" is granted with the return to the simple cottage life with their daughter and animals that they had at the beginning of the story.

Oh, the wonder of learning the names and modes of being for the roly polys in my yard, cherishing them and developing a wonder about it all - that is at least one application way Jesus' command to become as little children spoke to my heart today.

"At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me." (Matthew 18:1-5, emphasis added)

What do you think it means to "become as little children?" 

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