I took Jax to the zoo recently. What caused me to go with a twenty month old to the zoo all by myself – I was feeling pretty sure of myself. Taylor packed his backpack – snacks, diapers, wipes, and a change of clothes. It looked like rain, so I figured we could get in an hour and half visit. Away we went.
We hit it like champions – we saw all the monkeys (lots of variations), a tiger, a bear, and a family of ant eaters. Then, we hit the backside of the zoo and hit the jackpot – penguins, giraffes, elephants, rhinoceroses and even a 4 foot black snack that wasn’t in a cage but made me and Jax’s stroller get air off the ground.
We had time for the one thing – the infamous stop at the water fountain that kids played in and splashed about. (Hence, the change of clothes). It is a big circle of small bubbling fountains about 2-3 feet tall. There are about twelve fountains that are surrounded by a bigger circle of benches. Jax tentatively approached the first fountain, then moved onto the next one. He didn’t get into the water but got closer and closer. While this was happening, the benches were starting to fill with a huge group of school kids who were just arriving. (Bright neon yellow shirts still work for a group outing.) Finally, Jax put his hand in the fountain. When he did this, five girls from the group started clapping. I looked up and smiled while Jax was totally oblivious to the noise. He moved on to the next fountain and got up to his elbow in the water. More kids started cheering and clapping. Now, he perked up. The next bubbler got him to stick his knee in and more applause. It took two more fountains but he finally stuck his whole leg in and covered the spout with his foot. Water splashed everywhere. The group erupted and Jax faced them with the biggest grin, waving at them. One boy cheered, “Way to go, Buddy!” and opened his arms for a hug. Jax ran over and gave him a hug. More cheers! The teacher smiled and said, “It’s time to go. Let’s go see some animals.” Jax waved good bye to all of his new friends and even ran after them when the last few left the circle. I picked him up with a big smile on my face and a story that I have told so many times since then.
Such a surreal moment – so pure and yet, so many applications. Kids just excited to see someone “succeed.” I have learned so many leadership lessons over the years. This will be one of my favorites!