The Child and the Gecko

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Last summer, in 2012, I was working as an educator at the summer schools of the Montreal Botanical Garden. I was in the group in charge of raising insects and of other entomological topics.

I had an experience that made me think a lot about how to deal with children, preconceived notions and more.

Here’s the story:

It was my third time working at the summer schools and I still felt that I was lacking discipline in regards to children… many times it was hard for me to get the silence and attention necessary to start an activity.

There was a young boy whom I knew from previous years, he was in the first groups and at the end of the summer, he was going to be in my group. I was a bit worried since this boy was really well behaved. The times I tried to talk to him, I didn’t like his attitude and replies.

I even asked the other educators what to do when he’s in my group… how to handle this difficult child.

Finally, he was in group, I tried not to have preconceptions, but I had a hard time knowing what to do with him.

After several days, he told me he raised geckos in his house. A couple had laid eggs and they had succeeded in incubating them. Now they had several of them as well as a bigger lizard, a bearded dragon.

Since that moment, our relationship changed: we found something in common. We talked a lot about those animals, about how he and his family succeeded in raising them and more. The leopard geckos come from the arid regions of India and are nocturnal animals.

When his mother arrived, she also shared more about those animals. I decided to buy them one and I have my own reptile. So after a long chat with them, and after much reading, the end of summer was here.

I went to his house, where they showed me all their animals, they chose me a very healthy male and help me buy the necessary equipment: s terrarium, sand, lamps, crickets and live larvae with food.

I went with them to two pet shops, where we spent a lot of time talking with salespersons since they knew this interesting boy, a reptile aficionado. They let us take several snakes out of their terrariums, showing us every one of them.

Finally, I arrived at my place, installed my gecko, and he still lives with me to this day and I still contact that family of experts for advice.

My gecko sometimes goes on hunger strikes… because he only fancies beetle larvae and rejects crickets and others.

They told me that it’s the equivalent of a child only wanting to eat French fries.

I still try… anyways he looks well and healthy with la good amount of fat reserves in his tail.

Let’s get back to the boy, the last day our activities, he wrote me a message saying I was the best educator he had had in his life!

Until this day, I see him and his mother at the Botanical Garden and we talk for long periods of time about reptiles, the future of the boy as a scientist and much more… The geckos really brought us together…

Author: Helena Aroyo

Amelie Delobel

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