Yesterday we received a brief reprieve from the heat. I never imagined that 94 degrees would be considered a "break," but after the relentless heat, it was a veritable cold wave. Scott and I, both feeling antsy from being housebound for so many days, were anxious to get outside with Robby while the weather was bearable.
After a lot of him-hawing, I made the executive decision to go to the animal park. Scott has not been to the animal park in several years and after receiving numerous cell phone photos of animal park fun, he was eager to see his little boy with his animal friends. Robby, upon hearing that his Daddy would be coming to the park with us, began hopping up and down with uncontrolled excitement. A few bottles of water were thrown in my purse and we set out.
Robby loved showing his daddy around the animal park. He introduced Scott to his favorite little goats, and even scared his daddy when he fearlessly approached the large camel. Robby was in his element!
When the announcement came that the tractor was loading for the wagon ride, Robby took off running. The wagon ride is one of his favorite activities at the park. Since they offer rides every hour, we often take several rides during our visit. It was a short but extremely bumpy trip down to the pond in order to feed the fish and ducks.
As we were arriving at the pond I was hoping that we wouldn't see the duck with the leg injury. Several visits ago Robby spotted a duck that was having trouble walking. His left leg was hurt, and Robby was extremely worried. He spoke to every zoo worker about the duck, concerned that the duck was hurting and worried that he couldn't run and play. I heard about the duck for weeks after that visit.
Robby is sensitive to people and animals in distress. In that way, I think that Scott and I have been doing something right in the way that we are raising him. He thinks about others, and for that I am proud!
Unfortunately, sometimes his concern morphs into fretting and obsession. This was the case with the hurt duck. He has looked for the duck on each subsequent visit, verifying that he was indeed getting better. He even offered the services of my prosthetist to the zoo keepers, assuring them that "Mr. Elliot can make the duckie a brand new leg so he doesn't hurt and he can walk."
The trip to Ohio and the subsequent heat has kept us from our animal park for several weeks. Enough time passed and the topic of the hurt duck has finally been put to rest. That is, until the wagon pulled up and the gimpy little duck waddled right in front of Robby.
The tractor driver, who has been a sounding board for Robby's duck concerns on more than one occasion, immediately noticed. She tried to redirect his attention, but it was too late. My little duck lover began to barrage her, and anybody else who would listen, with questions about the water fowl's welfare.
It was explained, again, that the duck is not in pain. He walks with a limp but he is steadily putting more weight on the leg and is getting better. I had a "serious" conversation with Robby, telling him that Mommy walks with a limp sometimes but that Mommy is okay, and that the duckie is okay. Robby countered by reminding me that Mr. Elliot had to fix my leg, and that he needs to fix the duckie's leg.
So, I did what any good Mommy would do in my situation. I lied. I feigned a phone call to "Mr. Elliot" asking him to fix the duckie's leg. The weight of the world evaporated from Robby's face when I told him the good news- Elliot said that he would fix the duckie's leg and to stop worrying.
I am pleased that Robby has developed a strong sense of empathy. He is growing into a smart and sensitive little boy, and I could not be more proud to call him my son. Of course, I realize I could be writing an entirely different kind of blog after our next trip to the animal park, especially if the duck hasn't completely healed. For now, he is satisfied that the duck will be okay, and I am happy that I don't have to face the constant questions. I'll worry about the rest later.