Back when my now-eight-year-old granddaughter, Laney, was less than a year old, I shared a story with all of you about her first encounter with a turtle. She and my daughter and son in-law were enjoying a little walk through some woods when they met an ordinary turtle. Elizabeth (my daughter), who was raised on the farm and who had a menagerie of pets over the years, didn't hesitate to pick the turtle up so Laney could have a closer look. No biggie, right? But what happened next is. Laney patted the turtle's head and then took its front foot in her tiny little hand without the turtle even flinching. In fact, my son in-law had to gently pry Laney's hand from around the turtle's foot so she wouldn't inadvertently squeeze it too hard.
This was the first of oodles of encounters between Laney and the animal kingdom--all of which clearly indicate that Laney has a special connection with animals. And it's this connection that fuels her passion for them. For example...
*Baby chicks hop up on her finger when she holds it out to them, let her stroke their feathers, and plant a kiss on their fuzzy little heads.
*Boots, who was her first pet rabbit, rode in her doll carriage and sat on her lap while she was on the swing set.
*She once sat her hamster, Paddington, on a piece of paper so that she could trace his paw. She said she knew he wouldn't live forever, so she wanted to make sure she had a memory of him she could keep forever. And he just stood there and let her do it!
*While spending the day on an island while on a cruise, Laney walked over and started petting a rather large and colorful lizard. Elizabeth and Craig didn't think much of it. They thought it was used to people. A lifeguard, however, nervously asked them to retrieve Laney, saying the lizard was not part of vacation experience and could seriously harm her.
*Once at a petting zoo, she and I walked toward some squealing little pigs. Several children were trying to get the pigs to come to them. When Laney approached the fence, they both came scampering over to her without her saying a word. She started petting them and gave them names--bacon and porkchop.
I could keep going but I think you get the picture. Laney is our little animal whisperer. But what you might be wondering is what that has to do with you, so I'll tell you. As parents we need to keep our eyes, hearts, and minds wide open so that we can see and discern what their abilities and talents are, and what it is that fuels our child's passions. But that's not where it ends. We also need to make sure we nurture them and funnel them in the right direction--the 'right direction' being to provide opportunities for them to use these things to:
*Build their self-confidence
*Create in them a sense of responsibility and work ethic
*Develop social and people skills
*Embrace and appreciate their uniqueness
*Learn to balance pride (the good kind) with humility and being in the spotlight with being in
the shadows so someone else can shine
Our child's 'thing' may not be ours, but that's beside the point. You heard me--it doesn't matter. What matters is that you are their biggest fan, their most avid supporter, and the one they know they can always count on to accept and adore them for who they are.
copyright 2021 Darla Noble. No part of this can be copied without permission.