Last Thursday here in Wisconsin we had record breaking temperatures. It was spring break for my daughter, so when 82 degrees was in the forecast, I knew I had to blow off Easter preparations for the day and get outside with the girls.
I'm surprised I didn't see you there, because I think the whole rest of the world had the same thought I did and was also at the zoo. But it was a good crowd, and although there was a mosh pit of kids in the play area, I saw a lot of parental supervision and general assistance among the adults. You know how sometimes you attend kid events or visit a child play area and there's a sense of distance from the parents where you just have to wonder, "Who's watching these kids??" I didn't feel that way at all last week.
I felt a kinship among the parents and grandparents who were there. I had a very nice conversation with the mom in front of me while we were in line for the carousel. I felt comfortable with her keeping an eye on my youngest for a couple of seconds while I made sure A. was settled on the animal of her choice around the other side of the carousel where I couldn't see her (grrr). I spoke with a mom in the monkey house (there are days when that surely would have a double meaning) about her 3-year old daughter who was clinging to her and afraid to look at the apes about how I had the opposite problem with my two girls. The conversation was short because I had to tackle my 2.5 year old as she tried to make her own way through the crowd. (You see, I have these children that even as crawling infants were gone. "Mom who? I'm off!") Later I coaxed her daughter down the slide from the top of a play structure with a long line behind us. There was another mom who helped A. down from the climbing rocks while I was busy corralling M.
As we were heading over to the bears, A. was about 2 steps behind, but then not.... As I stopped to make sure she was still right by me, she ran about 5' to catch up with a desperate sound to her voice. "Mom! That little boy can't find his mom!!" Indeed. We backed up and I had a conversation with a 7.5 year old boy who had gotten separated from his mother and big brother. Long story short, I got the information I needed in order to get help for him. He was very brave, and my daughter was so concerned about him. In all the busyness around us, it was A. who heard that child call out "Mom." She was the one who came to his rescue. She was the one who tried to help him feel at ease as she plunked herself on the pebbles in front of him, and looked him right in the eye. When I asked if he would tell us his name, it was A. who encouraged him to let his guard down by chatting with him. "I had a Tyler in my class last year." And it was A. who was on high alert as we made our way for assistance.
And so, this week I was able to appreciate the help and kinship of strangers along with the deep caring and comforting traits my daughter possesses.
Here's a picture of the "black cat" (left side) that M. wanted to ride.