"Mom! Come here. You have to see this! . . . Don't freak out."
That last comment had me freaking out in advance, but it turned out to be this awesome lizard that Eli wanted to show me. I'm surprised he spotted it in the first place because, as you can see, it is superbly camouflaged! We stared at it for a minute, then went to get Lila and the camera. We all came back outside and stared at it some more. Eli was convinced that it was dead and kept saying,
"I fink it's just a skull."
After we had all crowded around it (making no effort to be quiet) and I'd snapped half-a-dozen photos and the thing still hadn't moved a muscle... I started to think Eli was right. I asked him if he wanted to touch it, to see if it was alive, and his response was to take a step backward and command me to do it. Lila wasn't interested either, so I went for it. I'm not remotely afraid of lizards, but I don't like the kind of surprise where someone sneaks up on you and says, "Boo!"
Or the kind of surprise where a lizard plays dead and then attacks your face when you try to touch it. I reached out veeery slowly and touched the lizard's tail. Nothing. I pushed its tail to one side a little. Nothing. I decided it was, in fact, dead and began to pick it up (gently) by the tail. It still did a remarkable job of pretending to be dead until I pulled one of its feet loose from the board and it grabbed back on. I wasn't worried about being surprised by this point, so I kept at it.
The little guy - well, big for a backyard lizard - hung on with all his might, but I finally got him loose and into my hand. I stayed still (and close to the ground, in case he jumped) and he just sat and stared at me for a bit. I had hoped to get a photo of him sitting on my hand, but I didn't have a chance to grab the camera. As soon as he saw his chance, the dude took of like a shot. He moved so fast that I didn't even see where he went!
It was a fun little adventure and I enjoyed seeing aspects of Eli's personality reflected in the experience. He was observant (spotted the lizard). He was patient (waited for rest time to be over). He was excited to share his find with us. He anticipated others' reactions ("Don't freak out."). He was respectful of the creature (i know many kids would have been all over the poor thing as soon as they saw it). He's just a great little guy and I know he's going to be a great man, as well. :)