Friday morning I took the Zoo Crew on the road for a field trip.
Since we are studying the Revolutionary War, we popped “Liberty’s Kids” in the DVD player and made the trek to Perry to the Go Fish Education Center. My two split their time between talking and asking questions about the program and trying to figure out where we were headed.
That’s how I roll. I rarely tell them where we are going ahead of time. Just makes life easier when things don’t work out. It also keeps them guessing and living the adventure. But mostly it’s for expectation management–if something doesn’t happen, it lessens the disappointment to just mine.
Friday our instructor/ranger friend talked about the native animals in our area. Before going out to play a game about bears and food and hibernating, the children were invited to either pet or hold (their choice) a toad, a box turtle, and an indigo snake. It was fun watching all of the children’s expressions and seeing their fear be conquered by curiosity. The instructor/ranger is a great teacher. She has more patience than a little bit. I learned a lot in our time there–most importantly, that all snakes are protected in the state of Georgia. That’s right, it is illegal to kill any snake, including the poisonous ones. Seriously? Someone asked her to clarify that, and yes, that is the case. Wow. Not even sure what to do with that one.
After she passed around the turtle, she took a huge shell from their display and showed the children the interior of the shell and how it is formed. Amazing actually. She handed it to a grandfather who was there with his granddaughters, and they began to pass it around. I watched the delight dance across Cooter’s face. And then I noticed the wheels were turning. He is much like his older sister–you can read his emotions in his face. He was thinking. And sure enough, when it was his turn, he started trying to put the shell behind his back. Our Princess thought he was passing it to her around his back and moved to take it from him, whispering, “Don’t pass it that way.” But no, he wasn’t trying to pass it to her. He was literally trying to put it on his back.
Are y’all familiar with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?
I am. Very well. All the way back to my first little guy who loved them twenty years ago. I used to remember their names by their colors but I’d need a refresher course now.
I have a feeling I’ll be getting one soon.
Cooter had his mind on these special turtles because his friend was having a birthday party, and the friend loves the Ninja Turtles. My little guy has become fascinated with them of late. Especially as we were shopping for a gift for his friend–he saw all of the “wonderful” toys and games and books and clothes made especially for Ninja Turtle fans. *sigh* Not something else, please. Let’s just stick with Legos, shall we? (Oh they make those in Ninja Turtles too, never fear!)
As we were leaving for the game outside, we picked up the shell and I helped him pose. He was so thrilled to look like a Ninja Turtle, I think he thought he’d turned into one. (They love pizza almost as much as he does, you know.)
Alas, no, baby boy. A shell on your back does not a Ninja Turtle make.
It reminded me of the day I moved into Persons 323 at Wesleyan College at the beginning of my freshman year. My Mama was there helping me move in. My Rosey roommate had her Mama and Daddy there with her. Our parents were getting along so well, you’d have thought they were thrilled to be moving us out of their homes rather than suffering from the devastated emotions I am sure they were actually feeling. Ahem.
Rosey’s Dad was talking about being born in Kentucky I think, but he assured Mama that they were not Northerners. Mama nodded and said, “Well, just because a cat has her kittens in an oven, that doesn’t make them muffins.”
I shuddered, wondering what my roommate was thinking. But they all laughed about it, and she and I did as well over the next few years. Mama. Seriously? But yes, that’s just who she was.
And she was right. Being born in an oven doesn’t make you a muffin. Wearing a shell on your back doesn’t make you a Ninja Turtle. Having to wear hand-me-downs and eat leftovers doesn’t make you poor. Earning a diploma doesn’t make you a smart person. Or a nice one.
It’s what’s inside that counts. Deep down. Masks and facades and turtle shells aside, it’s the heart and soul and mind that make us who we are.
Not outward appearances or where we come from or how much money we have in the bank or what papers we have on a wall. It’s our hearts.
Not a bad lesson to be reminded of by a six-year-old Ninja Turtle Wannabe. Tonight I’m thankful for that.
Cowabunga, dudes! And love to all.
Thank you to all of those keeping Aub’s friend Miss K in your thoughts and prayers. She is doing well. She has been walking some, doing physical therapy, and went outside for the first time yesterday. What joy it brings me to be able to share that good report with you all. Please continue to think of her and her continued healing.