When Alice and I got home one afternoon last week, we found a little cardboard box sitting in some shade just outside the doorway.
My dad had shipped her a tub of 1,500 ladybugs.
“Is it a surprise?” she asked.
“It’s a really fun surprise,” I told her. “Ladybugs.”
“Is it for me? Can I open it?”
We decided we would open it when David got home from work, and while she waited, she carried the ladybugs all around the house with her. When it was time for dinner, they sat next to her at the kitchen table. “Don’t be scared, guys,” she whispered to them.
I was worried that, by the time David walked in, she would be too attached to the ladybugs to let them go. But we told her they wanted to live in our garden and take care of our plants. She agreed, and we pulled off the lid.
The next 15 minutes, while the ladybugs spilled from their tub, were filled with little-girl shrieks of all-consuming happiness. (I flashed-back to fourth-grade sleepovers). She screamed when ladybugs crawled onto her dress. She screamed when they flew off the tips of her fingers.
And then the sun went down and it was time to take a bath.
The next day, I happened to talk to a former boss on the telephone, and I mentioned the ladybugs. “File that one away,” I told him, “for when you have grandkids.”
“It sounds like heaven,” he said.
It was like heaven.