Grandpa and I took our three little rascals to the Assinboine Park Zoo on what may have been the last summery Saturday for this year. The place has sure changed since our kids were little, and even more so from when I was. The cost of admission is higher even though the variety of animals is less, unless my memory fails. I remember black and brown bears, even a grizzly. I recall zebras and giraffes and gibbons. Relatively few primates seem to live there now. I thought the zookeepers might be interested in our three monkeys, but they declined my offer.
The perspective of a child is always fascinating. Four-year-old Buckwheat announced that his favorites were the bats. Which was interesting, because none of the rest of us saw any bats. The highlight for Spanky, not quite three, was catching a lady bug and carrying it in his hand most of the day. Meanwhile, seven-year-old Alfalfa’s best thing was the Polar playground.
I think my favorite part was the butterfly garden, a chance to sit and relax amidst the sweet fragrance of the flowers (a definite step up from the scents offered by the animals). The butterflies fluttering by made me want to sit much longer than three rambunctious rascals allowed.
When we returned the boys to their parents, we stayed for the evening and I had the privilege of tucking Alfalfa into bed. As he said his prayers, I needed to bite my cheeks to keep from laughing out loud. He was so exhausted, he could barely squeak. But he wanted to thank Jesus for the good day we’d shared and found it necessary to name every animal he could remember seeing. As his voice got smaller, his pauses grew longer. “Thank you that we got to see the polar bears and the lions and tigers and camels and snow leopards and … kangaroos and monkeys… and butterflies and buffalo and eagle… and frogs and…chipmunks…and … a type of bunny…”
We said “amen” and kissed goodnight, but I think he was gone before my “I love you” even hit his ears.
Alfalfa had just demonstrated a wonderful way to fall asleep, thankful for every detail of his day.
When I lay me down to sleep, I’d love it if God sometimes chuckles. I want to fall into slumber rehearsing all the blessings of my day and feeling truly grateful for them—even on the ordinary days. My comfortable home, a hot shower, clothes to wear, books to read, food to eat, a job I enjoy, likable co-workers, freedom to live without fear, grandsons to snuggle, columns to write and readers to read them, a body that functions, a car that mostly works, soft mittens and warm slippers, a bottle of my favorite lotion, a cozy bed to lay my tired body in. Our public library and whoever invented such a thing. My church. Sidewalks. Garbage pick-up. Dishwashers. Dahlias. I could go on, but I know you have a list of your own. May it put you to sleep smiling tonight.