Butterflies have been quite a recurring theme around our place in recent days. Their beauty has melded into our lives in a variety of different forms.
This Beauty came to visit our front yard a few days ago. Much to the delight and amazement of us all. It was as if it had come to visit purely for our enjoyment, fluttering around us and resting on the bush right beside where we were eating our snack. Quite coincidently I had my camera in hand and the butterfly remained still just long enough to snap these photos. (I’m extremely inexperienced at such wildlife photography.)
The Wonderland of Nature by Nuri Mass has been our morning tea reading most of this year. We have all loved this book especially as it describes Australian insects, animals and plants and we have referred back to it on many occasions after discovering an insect or plant which we had previously read about. Our readings for these past couple weeks have described in detail various caterpillars and their transformation into butterflies and moths. Almost as if on cue, the butterfly above fitted into my nicely organised homeschool lessons more perfectly than I could have planned – the beauty of learning as we live our lives together.
We have recently read (and on several previous occasions, I might add) The Boy Who Changed the World by Andy Andrew. A delightful picture book which outlines the lives of a few people over a few generations. The influence each person has on the next is seen quite clearly and ‘The Butterfly Effect’ demonstrated so beautifully.
But it was a television show which sparked the discussion. A short, clever, funny show which has the ability to bring children and adults alike running as soon as the theme music begins – it doesn’t matter if the 5 year old is half way brushing his teeth or the two year old has been snuggled into bed after stories and cuddles, they all come running, then disappear just as quickly afterwards. Miniscule has become a family favourite to snuggle on the couch together for a giggle and laugh before bedtime reading.
The title of the show last night was ‘The Butterfly Effect’. This prompted quite an in-depth discussion between Brad and I regarding the subtleties between the words ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ resulting in a dictionary and thesaurus being referenced. Then as the show ended the children were intrigued as to what ‘The Butterfly Effect’ actually was. And was it real? I mean could a simple flapping of a butterflies wings really produce a profound effect somewhere else in the world? If that was so, then us running, blowing, sneezing……. would all have a similar reaction, wouldn’t it?
Hmmm….. how to answer. Well I didn’t have any scientific explanation and I had to agree that the concept was rather hard to comprehend. The Boy Who Changed The World describes it well even if a little abstractly;
Every time something happens, something else happens. That’s called the butterfly effect. When a butterfly flaps its wings, it moves tiny pieces of air … that move other tiny pieces of air … that move other tiny pieces of air. In fact, on the other side of the world, they might be feeling a big whoosh of wind – all because a butterfly flapped its wings here just a few minutes ago!
So I brought it back to something we could all see and renamed it ‘The Ripple Effect’. We collected a little pebble and threw it into the still water. This produced ripples which grew in size and intensity and continued growing and flowing until they reached the shore. Good, a concrete example we could all observe and relate to (and nothing to do with butterflies which seemed too gentle and beautiful to be involved in such an analogy according to my daughter).
The discussions continued all day as each brought a new perspective on ‘The Ripple Effect’. How much we influence those about us, even without knowing, just by the little things we do, has fascinated these children of mine. The three older ones have all made definitive plans about just how they are going to make the world a better place when they are older and are 100% convinced that what they are learning about and doing now is in fact making the future world a better place to live in. The conversations I overheard among themselves showed me just how seriously they were taking this concept. Every action they take, so it seems, has been analysed (by themselves) to make sure the ‘ripple effect’ they are creating is a good one – they certainly don’t want to create a devastating tsunami ripple.
Once again I’m astounded by the understanding and child-like acceptance of these children of mine. They teach me daily, and once again I become the student. My influence is far greater than I can imagine. It flows from the conversations I have, they way I live my life, the little things which I am consistent within the four walls of my home and the person I decide to turn up as each and every day. Just by living my life and being the best me I can be at this moment is creating a ripple of influence. Wow, what a responsibility. I’m determined to once again raise my standards and expectations of myself. To take a good, long, honest look at myself and decided what I need to continue or change. It’s a good reminder and I’m once again grateful for the lesson I’ve learnt from these amazing children.