Today little kid came in from the porch and said, "I wanna show you sumtin'." I glanced over at him and said, "Cool, put it back outside."
I thought it was a rock. Then my brain jump started and I wondered why he was holding it pinched between two fingers and holding out his other fingers like they were sticky.
"What is that? Come here and show me."
He proudly marched over and held it out. It took a moment for my eyes to focus on what I was seeing.
Finally, the terrified face of a lizard came into focus, its mouth gaping and eyes bulging. I yelled and he dropped it, and we both watched it fall to the ground, twitch a few times, and die.
“Ohhhhh, ohhhhh, that's a lizard!” I cried out, dismayed.
“Yep. Dead lizard. It died,” he said matter of factly.
“It died because you killed it,” I said, angry as I scooped up the lifeless body in a paper towel, “You were not gentle with an animal, and this is what happened.”
"Was bad lizard. Bit me, came in my house, gonna bite my cats!"
"No, it was not a bad lizard and it did not bite you. This is bad. This is very sad."
“It come back?” he asked, looking worried.
“No, honey, it won't come back. That's what it means when you die, that you don't come back. That's why you have to be careful.”
He paused then, obviously deep in thought. We were quiet for a few moments when he looked at me and said, “We get new lizard at Wal-mart. We go Wal-mart, get new lizard! No be sad anymore,” with a triumphant smile.
I felt like I had somehow botched the opportunity to teach him an important life lesson, but he looked so happy with his belief that all things could be fixed with a trip to Wal-mart, that I decided to let it go. For the rest of the day he kept talking about how he caught a bad lizard that was trying to bite him and the cat. I'm a little concerned about the lack of remorse--and the love of Wal-Mart.