After hugs, kisses, bye-bye-toodles, and snagging a flower from the bushes in front of Mae’s school, Haze, riding in a bike trailer that I can push, and I typically walk down the Greenway. It’s a nice ½ mile addition to our morning stroll, and by then my coffee is in full-effect.

It’s when we get to the greenway that Haze invariably asks if she can get out of the trailer and then, with a sweet-squinty-eyed look, says “Uppy?” And every time I explain to her that she can either walk or ride in the trailer, but she can’t get up in my arms – she’s a tall 3-year-old. This has been going on for weeks, and although she asks at different points on the trail, she still attempts to get me to bend over and carry her home. But, I haven’t and she cries. What I have done is learn the mystical powers of worms and caterpillars.

worms, caterpillars, crickets, and grasshoppers.

All Haze needs to calm a crying jag is an inch long wiggling creature from the grass. It’s magical. The moment we find a “crawler”, she gets back in the trailer, closes the flap, plays with and talks to her worm – calm as can be. I ponder buying a dozen night crawlers to always have on hand, but I wonder if that would defeat her intentions.

At a young age we learn to ask for what we need. We may not always say directly what we desire, but we know what we want. When Haze says “Uppy”, does she know that it’ll increase my intensity to search for her inch-long friends? When she gets out of the trailer, sees my eyes roll, and gives me her smile, does she really want to say “Dad, can we look for worms instead of boringly walking down this trail while you talk to our neighbors.” I’m starting to think so.

I feel it’s our job to teach our girls how to effectively get their needs met. That lesson isn’t about giving them what they want, but listening to what they are really trying to say.