I have this friend Kortney, who has a daughter Kimberly. I first met them through dance. Neither of are kids are in dance together anymore but Kortney and I have remained friends. In addition to Kortney having impeccable fashion sense, she always has great suggestions for play dates. One of these suggestions was Gardner Village.
Gardner Village always has a lot of great things for kids. Certain times of the year they have fairies hidden. They have horses dressed up as unicorns and around Halloween, they have witches and hay mazes. One thing they have all year round is a petting zoo, something both of our kids really wanted to do.
For a couple years I have always been curious about getting Marina involved in some volunteer work. Even though I am not one to volunteer myself, I think it is a great way for kids to learn selflessness and responsibility. However, there aren’t a lot of opportunities for 5 and 6 year olds to volunteer. I can’t remember how the subject came up at the petting zoo, but somehow I found out that they had volunteer opportunities and little kids were welcome. I mentioned it to Marina and she sounded excited but we didn’t get around to it with the business of summer. That was until a couple weeks ago.
I had just picked her up from school and we were headed home. Marina piped up and said, “Daddy, I want to go and volunteer!” We weren’t too far from Gardner Village and I said “Alright”.
After filling out the paperwork, one of the older volunteers took Marina to the back and taught her how to water the bunnies. After watering the bunnies they instructed us what other animals Marina needed to check. We went from pen to pen and made sure all of the animals were watered. Occasionally Marina would insist one of the bunnies or chickens were her friends and would want to hold them. It was great she did everything without complaining.
At one point she asked me where all the animals came from. I let her know that most of the animals were treated poorly by their owners and that this place took they animals so they could be treated better. She was really sad. She asked how some people could treat animals so bad, I had to let her know that some people were just like that and we don’t know why. I told her the best thing we could do is let the animals know they were loved.
This is the time I had a flash back to a movie that most people didn’t like, but I think it had a great story in it. The lead of the story is saying how everyone has a circle around them. That circle reflects who they care about. Everyone has a circle that involves themselves. Most normal people have a circle that involves their family. Good people have a circle that involves their friends. Great people have a circle that involves their community. The better the person, the bigger the circle and the more people that circle includes. As a Christian, to me this is great because Jesus’s circle includes everything.
I told this story to Marina. I told her it was great that she cared about other people and even animals. I also used it as an opportunity to say, even the people that don’t care about the animals, Jesus cares for them and so should you. This is another one of those lessons, like feeding birds, that I don’t expect her to understand until she gets to be older, but with occasional reinforcement I hope it sticks. The next week when I picked her up from school, the first thing she said is “Daddy, the rabbits might need water, we better go volunteer!”
Marina did such an amazing job that we decided to stick around and I let her make some potions at the six hags amusement park.