I always hated zoos before I had kids. Seeing animals in a small enclosure out of their natural environment. It made me sad. Watching the tiger walk the same path 532 times a day in a sad circle. The monkeys swinging on the fake trees. The giraffes standing on the cement slabs.
I’d tell myself that they were saved and they were safe here and there was a reason they were here. But it didn’t matter – it still looked unnatural.
I’ve managed to overlook some of that since having kids. Kids don’t really see the environment. They see the stripes of their coats and their ability to swing and their unusually long legs. They watch the mama’s carry the baby animals and nurse them with love. I watch my kids watch the animals and it seems quite natural.
I love how kids don’t notice the bad. Things are truly only bad for them if someone teaches them that it is bad. They are a beautiful natural open slate of goodness. They see only the most beautiful stripes.
I clean my house for playdates. The playdates where the kids are just dropped off at the curb. The six and eight year olds come in and for some reason I want my floor scrubbed and toilets bleached. I push away the clutter and papers and dirty dishes and just life.
I’ve never had kids before – I didn’t realize they don’t see that. Or if they do – they don’t care. Kids want a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a treat of hot chocolate. They want a friend’s mom who let’s them spread crafts all over the dining room table, and to play the music loud and have a dance party. A dance party around the mess of life perhaps. A life in it’s natural state.
And sometimes I remember. I remember the best friend I had who didn’t have the cleanest house. And while I knew that and kind of noticed that it was different from my house – it never bothered me because her mom would brush my hair into the most amazing styles and make the best tomato and mayonnaise sandwiches. And I remember the laughter in their house. Laughter in it’s most natural state.
My kids attend a very diverse school – diverse in every way possible. Not one kid in that school is the same – whether my race, religion, economic status, the clothing they wear, the language they speak, the home that they live in. This school is a blend of our inner city living and it’s beautiful and completely in it’s natural state of where we live.
And my kids attend birthday parties in apartment buildings and at grandmother’s houses and also at nice houses on the boulevard. They go to playdates in neighborhoods that we may not consider the best and sometimes they play right here down the block.
And while my kids see the difference and I want them to love and appreciate the beautiful differences of people – they don’t see where they live is any different from how we live. They see their good friend with a parent or grandparent who makes them a peanut butter sandwich with maybe a juice box and who let’s them watch a movie or sits and lovingly paints their nails. They only see their friend. Their friend in a completely, natural and beautiful way.
I need to think like a kid again as it would save me tons of cleaning hours and I’d probably laugh a lot more.
Wouldn’t that be the perfect natural environment to share.