The usually crazy, rambunctious, almost four-year-old boy ran up to Mama after his bike ride yelling, "MAMA! Come QUICK! There's a BUTTERFLY OVER HERE!"
Mama ran over to the side of the house where Daddy usually parks his work truck and saw what he was pointing at and jumping up and down about: a monarch butterfly with curled up, faded, useless wings. At first, she thought she could just maybe bend them straight, or wait until they spontaneously healed, or the butterfly could maybe figure out how to fly with them with a little practice. In the meantime, she picked it up with her bare hand (an amazing feat not unnoticed by the boy) and brought it over to the porch until they could figure out what to do.
The little boy crouched and watched the creature flitter and falter for about 5 minutes and wondered if some intervention would be helpful. He tried "feeding" it a leaf.
He tried to see if maybe it would get better by "sucking on a mini-pumpkin" but got really upset when Mama suggested that maybe the butterfly might not be able to do that since it was so weak from trying to fly.
He tried to feed it some jelly on a spoon but the butterfly just got all sticky and then it tried to fly away with broken wings AND sticky feet.
The boy's sisters were desperately trying to help too, but Mama finally had to explain that the butterfly probably came from the grill of Daddy's truck, and even thought his body was still okay, his wings were no good. This kind of butterfly should be on his way to Mexico by now, but with his wings like this, he may not even get to find shelter this night because he can't even fly a foot at a time and he's struggling so much that he will get tired and probably die before the day is done.
It was a really sad time for the little boy (who, incidentally, finds great pleasure in squashing OTHER insects like grasshoppers and beetles). He just couldn't figure out why it wouldn't do any good to just put the butterfly in a bucket and give it some water, leaves, and rocks like you do for caterpillars and toads.
I wish I could say that this story has a happy ending for the butterfly, but it doesn't. The boy finally realized that sometimes there are sad things that happen and we can't fix some problems but life goes on and you can just go in the house for a snack for things to get all better.
He went outside the next morning to look for butterfly, but it was all gone. Maybe it figured out how to fly with it's broken wings? Maybe it died quietly and went blowing in the wind down to the pond and got caught in a tree where it's pretty wings will decorate some birdy's nest next spring? I guess not seeing the dead butterfly was some comfort for him because he didn't seem quite so upset as the day before. He and his mama went for a walk later that day (it was windy so he wanted to walk instead of ride his bike) and they went (along with little sister in Mama's backpack) to visit a neighbor boy who is the same age.
It was a nice day but it was too windy to see any more butterflies...and too late in the year to squish any grasshoppers along the way.