I found my box of empty jars, from when my boys were young.
A brush of dust, a ream of rust. I sighed; my heart unstrung.
Stacked all helter-skelter, with holes poked in the lids.
Home to centipedes, pill bugs, and singing katydids.
I’d learned to be prepared when they pounded up the stairs,
Out of breath and dancing, like they’d just seen “fifty bears.”
The kitchen echoed with their shouts, “Come and see this, Mom!”
Was it a grasshopper or beetle or a newt that they named Brahm?
They’d yell for me to come and look, hands cupped around their prize.
We’d gather close together, a sparkle in their eyes.
I’d hand them each a bug jar and remind them of our rule.
Twenty-four hours in our house, and then back to wood or pool.
A handful of green grass, tucked lovingly inside,
Made a cozy sanctuary, in which a bug could hide.
A shiny rock for sunning and a stick for it to climb.
That jar was toted all about, until it was bedtime.
Then propped up by a bunkbed, their bugs would watch them sleep.
When morning came, we’d let them go, to freedom they would creep.
My box of jars sat empty, though summer had come and gone.
Catching bugs had been replaced, by football on the lawn.
Board game nights with Dad and paintball wars with friends,
Cross-country meets, games of bump, shooting zombies on weekends.
As I threw out all my bug jars, I thanked God I’d taken time,
For every snake and stinkbug and bright faces smeared with grime.
Those boyish years are fleeting, so relish every one.
Admire each tiny creature, be a part of all the fun.
These tall teens delight me, full of sarcasm and snark.
Driving for the first time, trying to parallel park.
I trade my jars for video games and try not to be undone.
I toss the last … then snatch it back. I think I’ll keep just one.
There will be a day when little feet come running back to me.
“Grandma, Grandma, what’s this bug?” and of course I’ll go and see.
I’ll kiss their dusty heads and give each child a quick squeeze.
“Do you have a bug jar? Grab it, Grandma, please?”
By Kristen Joy Wilks