Solving a Puzzle

My Chase stands rigid, arms by his sides, at the bottom of the driveway as if the hot sun had melted the macadam into the rubber soles of his sneakers and he cannot move.  But, alas, there is no hot sun, instead rainy-mist dreariness fills the morning sky.

I get out of the car with annoyance and walk over thinking through the last twenty minutes and wondering what has been left unsaid or unsolved.

“What’s wrong?” It comes out of my mouth with more exasperation than empathy.

His chin falls to his chest as the tears well in his eyes. He flicks his whole arm away from his body, pointing to the wet sidewalk. Worms. Everywhere.

“Come on, I’ll walk you halfway,” I say, knowing that the clock is ticking and my arrival time to school is approaching.

My oldest offers to give him a piggyback ride. I wave her off, grab his hand and we go.

I say, “It’s like a puzzle, you just have to weave around them.”

I can’t bear to let go of his hand halfway.  There are so many earthworms that he might just lose his mind.

Aside from the Mommy hairball incident in which he thought the hairball on the carpet was a spider, this kid doesn’t mind much. But this. This.

I get him to the porch and all is well with the world for the moment.  I ask Sasha to tell our neighbor about the w-o-r-m-s. I’ve got to watch what I spell ‘cause Chase figures out what I am spelling now, in his nearly six year old wisdom. Clearly, he knows what I am saying but he is silent and grateful for the assistance on this matter.

Surely, it was a long trek up past our house, the tree-line, and the townhouses at the top of the hill to catch the bus. I imagine them walking, my strong neighbor with her baby strapped to her back, her two year old in one arm and Chase flung over her shoulder and I laugh out loud. Nah, wouldn’t happen.  She would make him walk!

Maybe it is time to borrow Diary of a Worm – by Doreen Cronin – out of the library and to teach my boy about all the good things earthworms do for the planet. But then I think how I could read Diary of a Spider ‘til I’m blue in the face and you could teach me all the good things spiders do for the planet and I still would be terrified of them.

Guess I’m gonna have to teach my Chase how to tiptoe around them, to solve the worm puzzle himself.


7 thoughts on “Solving a Puzzle

  1. Chase is not the only one. As much as I love spring, these friendly worms are not what I would like to see during my early morning walk with my dog. I am terrified with these squiggly creatures as much as how much I know they are harmless and has a purpose with their existence. Yes, I do the “maze.” From now on, I just have to remind myself about the “worm puzzle.”


  2. Worms are creepy! Just as I read this my husband discovered giant worms had made their way into our garage, I guess to get out of the rain from last night. They have all been swept up and deposited in the yard. So, good luck with the tiptoe around the worms! 🙂


  3. I never was creeped out by worms for some reason. I feel sorry for them. Maybe you could get him to help “save the poor worms”, by seeing how many you could bring over to the soil (wearing work gloves?) where they would be safe from drowning, being stepped on or being eaten.
    I’m with you on the spider thing though… even Charlotte’s web couldn’t cure that one!


  4. I noticed the worms this morning, also, and thought maybe that could be a topic for a slice. Your opening paragraph was so descriptive! It really set the stage for the rest of the piece. Hope Chase made it to the bus OK. Your idea of making it a puzzle also gave me an idea for a slice. So thanks for the inspiration, Dana!


  5. Dana, your slice is beautifully crafted. “…rainy-mist dreariness…” “Worms. Everywhere.” The tension building on having to get to work. The feeling of exasperation tempered by a small child’s terror. I loved being part of this moment. I forgot spelling words until you reminded me. Thank you for this tender moment.


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