Snails Only Live in the Garden !

lani-2By Lani Sheldon
Published: Sept. 21, 2013


By late summer, the anticipation among parents of school-aged children for the return of the school year is obvious.

And even though I can’t ship off my sassy toddler to kindergarten yet, I am giddy thinking about the return of StrongStart, a program from which we both have learned so much.   

But there are a few lessons that even StrongStart didn’t prepare me for.  Here is one.

My daughter is obsessed with snails, or anything resembling snails.  When she discovered an empty snail shell in the garden and requested to bring it inside, I agreed, thinking this a relatively harmless idea. 

Now, fast forward to the following day.

One of my favourite times of the day is when she’s playing in her crib and read a few books as I run around cleaning up. 

There is something magical about a toddler playing quietly, alone.  My guard was down. (clueless parent mistake #1)

As I am folding some laundry, I hear her babble about snails, per usual.  Then things go silent, which any parent will tell you should be your first clue that some sort of toddler-evil is about to commence. 

“Nailsssss. IN.”

At this point I should have clued in that something was up.  Yet, I continued to happily fold laundry (clueless parent mistake #2). Hindsight is 20-20.

“Nailssssss. In.”


This is where I started to run. You see, we have been working on her anatomical vocabulary since beginning our potty training adventure. 

We talk about all the names of our different body parts, and also the words that we might use in public.  So if you are not fluent in toddler-speak: “pie-bits” = privates. 

There she was, attempting to hide her precious snail shell in her crotch. 

I clumsily attempted to say something coherent that wouldn’t result in permanent mental scarring and years of therapy.

“No honey, we don’t put anything in our privates.”

“I mean, some things, eventually…just not NOW…and only if they ask your permission. And only if you want to…or…I mean…argh…oh for goodness sakes!”

After fumbling through a few more ludicrous and poorly articulated explanations, I settled on a simple “SNAILS ONLY LIVE IN THE GARDEN!”

We then promptly got dressed to take our empty snail shell friend back outside.

Learning how to communicate with my toddler is an ongoing process, and StrongStart is one our favourite activities where we can learn from each other and from our classmates. 

But somehow I don’t think “Using local invertebrates to teach your children sex education” is in the curriculum.



  1. Dave says:

    Good article Lani, but you should “Educate ” the readers to what “Strong Start” is.
    I am an educator myself, albeit retired from the formal situation…but actually had to look it up.
    Anyway, I am with you! Dave Colwell (Ex Biology Teacher H.S.S.S. and parent)