If you have been following our blog, you will know that we welcomed another little nephew to our bunch in mid March. I, like my sister Angie, was fortunate enough to travel home and was able to see this little guy within two to three weeks after his birth. My youngest sister Mary was now the mother of three sweet little children. While there I, again like my sister Angie, was able to notice the weeks and months of discomfort and unrest on my sister Mary’s face. Not only was she pregnant and taking care of two other little children but they were also in the middle of a big remodel on their home. Needless to say, the look in her eyes of needing just a moment or two of peace and quiet were definitely being exhibited. So Uncle Jim volunteered one day to take my oldest nephew, now being “five and a half years old” out for a day of fun in the sun so my sister could have some rest. I thought what a better way to entertain him, as well as myself, with a trip to the Boise Zoo…little did I know at that time that I would be “schooled” by a preschooler.
Just inside of the gates of the zoo was the first exhibit that was filled with monkeys. I heard from my tour guide, aka my nephew, that, “monkeys have really big hands so they can grab onto the logs so they can swing easier.” He then continued in true form of a young boy by saying, “They also use their hands to pick bugs out of each others fur and then they eat them.” Young boys, including myself when I was young, always want to say something to shock anyone in their “earshot” don’t they? So of course eating bugs would be right up his alley.
As we continued throughout the zoo and came upon the California condor exhibit, I said, “Do you know Benson that if that bird opened his wings they would then be as wide as three times as you are tall?”
He paused for a moment and then said, “And did you know Uncle Jimbobs, that they can also swoop down and pick up a cow if they want and take it to their babies and eat it?”
I chuckled at his comment and then said to myself, “Who was I to be one up on my tour guide’s knowledge?" After all, I just did tell him that something might be bigger and mightier than he is, and at that age, that is just not possible. I just didn’t have the heart nor did I dare tell him, after he looked at me with his “angry eyebrows”, that he might be confusing a condor’s flight ability with that of a dragon.
As the afternoon progressed, we continued our educational excursion by riding the merry-go-round, climbing in old military jeeps, got our picture taken in the old photo booth, fed the giraffes and definitely encountered several other “beasts” over the course of the afternoon. Guinea pigs, komodo dragons, bald eagles, snakes, tigers, zebras, porcupines, anteaters and many other species were all apart of this learning experience. And even though I thought I knew a lot about some of these animals, I was again actually astounded at times with the knowledge and facts my "five and a half year old" tour guide provided…
FACT…"Did you know that zebra have stripes so they can blend into the herd when being chased by lions?" I had to look this one up and it actually does make it harder for the lions to pick out an individual zebra when on the chase.
FICTION…A zebra is my nephew’s “favorite” animal. Which is actually FACT, at least according to him on that particular day, but the fictitious part comes when he states that the zebra is the “strongest animal in all of Africa, even over an elephant or a rhinoceros.”
FACT…A giraffe has a “very very long tongue so it can reach the ground easier” due to its height. The giraffe’s tongue is also “black so it doesn’t get sunburned” in the hot African sun.
FICTION…A giraffe can also be a “million zillion feet tall.”
After the zoo and the amazing educational facts I had received from this young boy, we then spent some time running along the greenbelt to try and catch ducks and find fish in the river, had an ice cream and finally found the perfect park where we flew Uncle Jim’s sport kite in the gentle breezes in the heavens above. And as I pulled back into my sister's driveway and realized that our journey that day had come to an end, it was then I finally understood how much my nephew had actually taught me that day. It wasn’t necessarily the “facts” that he provided to me; especially the ones about a giraffe growing a “mission zillion feet tall" or the condor that is actually a dragon, but it was more about his love, zest and enthusiasm for life. Every kite he flew, each simple lick of an ice cream cone he experienced and each animal he saw—even though he had been there before—was still fun…was still sensational and was still an amazing experience for him.
It was upon that awareness and comprehension that I can now easily and proudly say, “I am NOT smarter than a preschooler!” How about you?