Parenting Blog

A Unique Gift, A Unique Girl

The Bear turns 6 in exactly 1 month.

A couple weeks ago, the local zoo had a mini-exhibit in one of the local malls, the one with a 19th century Venetian carousel inside and a Whole Foods outside.  There was, on the table, in addition to the snake and baby alligator, brochures about the zoo’s adopt-an-animal program.  The Bear was curious.  Of the many tiers of support, one allows the zoo to buy your chosen animal a treat – something yummy to eat, a stuffed animal to snuggle/play with/tear to shreds, essentially something fun that is outside what is typically allotted for in the zoo’s budget for said creature.  The cool part is that the zoo “parent” will be notified when a special item has been obtained and be allowed to come to the zoo to watch the animal receive it’s treat.  My girl decided, pretty much on the spot, that she wanted to do it and ask for money for her birthday.  After continuing to make sure the Bear is really up for a party sans gifts, we’ve spoken to the zoo and will ask guests to bring checks in lieu of gifts.

She loves presents, that’s not it.  This decision seems to be an extension of her lack of interest in picking up kindie rock t-shirts at all these shows we go to.  Other than the tie-dyed Gustafer shirt we just bought, I cannot remember the last one she wanted.  Usually, she says something like “I already have so many clothes”.  Let me remind you that this is my daughter, a girl, saying she has too many clothes.  My heart’s a flutter every single time I hear something so un-stereotypical coming out of her mouth. It is possible to raise children outside the confined box TV/marketers/magazines/society tries to put them in.  Sometimes, I doubt our ability as parents to accomplish this while still having the child integrated into our modern society, but I know it’s possible.  I see it often around here.

Like the t-shirts, she also understands and admits that she has so many books/toys/music (obviously) and instead of more on the pile, she’d like to have an animal at the zoo that she can claim as her own (along with the other folks “adopting” that same animal). So we’re drafting a message to be an invitation insert as a way of explaining what she is doing and asking guests to, if they wish to bring a gift, to make it a modest check to the zoo instead.

It’s not her first foray into the world of donations.  She opted to give her last dollar to a homeless man in Cincinnati, outside Great American Ballpark, instead of using it for a piece of candy.  She has given generously (like 1/2 of what she had in her wallet! – $8, I think) to her cousin to help protect abused animals.  Recently, we’ve talked a lot of Haiti, the destruction and the need for funds to rebuild, provide medicine, food, etc.  Her school had a dress-down-day fundraiser for Haiti and she used her own money to participate.  It’s nice to know that she’s capable (and willing) to put others, strangers really, first from time to time.  In a me-first world, this trait is one of the biggies on our parenting wish list.

The zoo animal?  Initially, a flamingo was the choice, but now she is undecided.  The lucky animal probably won’t be able to show it, but I know that he/she will join The Mrs. and I in being rather proud of a 6-year old kid showing a healthy dose of selflessness on her birthday.



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