I have a confession to make. When I was much younger I collected butterflies. I was actually pretty obsessed with searching the neighborhood for a variety of swallowtails and monarchs. I even hatched a few cocoons during my elementary years. And I have this one random memory as a kid I will never forget. I was sitting on a swing in my backyard in Memphis when I was surrounded by Monarchs. I’m not talking about a dozen or so, but hundreds. It was a once in a lifetime moment that made an incredible impression. They seemed to come out of nowhere all flying in the same direction. For what seemed like several minutes, they kept swarming directly at me as if they were teasing me. They flew around me and over me as if they were on a journey to some important destination. Then as suddenly as they appeared, they were all gone. It was an amazing sensation.
I remember trying to explain the experience to everyone I knew for the next few days, but no one really believed me. I kept saying: “I saw hundreds of butterflies all at once, flying like a flock of birds.” It was so frustrating as a kid to try to convince other people, about something that really happened to me. I finally gave up trying to get people to believe what I had experienced. I had almost forgotten that moment, until today. I visited a park in Monterey, California where tens of thousands of Monarchs fly thousands of miles every year. It was pretty amazing, and in a strange way the swarm of butterflies in one place made me feel a little vindicated. I’m not sure why I wanted to write about this, except to remind you, as a parent, about how powerful a child’s memories can really be. And it just occurred to me today that I stopped telling the story because no one believed me. I never even told my own kids about the migration of the monarchs through my backyard. So make sure you take the time to listen to what your kids tell you, and choose to believe in them. You never want them to stop telling their stories. Maybe even consider starting a journal to jot down some of their favorite memories. The memories your child is making during these years will become the stories they tell their children.