Photograph by Martin Cooper, unmodified except for size.  Generously made available via Flickr under a Creative Commons license.

I’m not sure why I buy toys for He’en when there’s a perfectly good supply of leptoglossus occidentalis crawling around whenever the weather gets above freezing.

This afternoon He’en announced from the bathroom, “MOM! Dere is a STEEN-k-buhG on da faucet.”

[Henceforth I will will use the traditional spelling, and we all will know that it’s actually a Western Conifer Seed Bug, “readily recognized by its lovely earthy colors and fancy hind feet,” as very prettily stated by The Bug Geek.  But you, gentle reader, must promise to pronounce it, in your head, forever and always, “STEEN-k-buhG.”]

I sighed inwardly and shifted Dragon Girl onto my hip.  “Okay, should we put him outside?”

“Yesss.”

I procured a Dixie cup and relocated child, bug, and cup to the porch.

He’en sat out there for a long time, lifting and turning her hands in the mellow afternoon light. The bug climbed up and down her aqua sweatshirt with the sparkly butterfly on the front.  (Being no fool, he had, by this time, abandoned his Dixie cup for warmer climes.)

Helen’s outdoor mania regularly requires me to research things that hop and crawl. I knew the bug was unlikely to bite or sting.

I frankly was more worried about the bug’s health.

But she was very gentle with him.

After a time, she re-entered the house with the bug perched on her wrist like a microscopic falcon.

“He’s pwiddy,” she announced. The bug twitched an antennae in cheerful agreement.

Surprised, I agreed as well. “Yes, he is pretty. What is your favorite part of him?”

She raised her wrist to her nose, went a little cross-eyed, and decided, “Da gode [gold] on his back.”

I took a closer look myself. Indeed, he had a beautiful pattern on his back.

“I like his little stripes. He’en, it will be a great gift to you, your whole life, if you can see something pretty where other people can only see an icky old bug.”

She huffed a short laugh, a disconcertingly adult sound from a four-year-old.

“I can see da pwiddy,” she assured me with total confidence.

May it always be so.