We took the kids to the sanctuary on Saturday because mama wanted to go. I wanted to see the birds and look in the drawers at all of the preserved bits of nature and peer into the glass cases and say hello to the animals.
I also wanted the kids to see it, to come back on a regular basis to look at the animals that live in our nearby woods and prairies and ponds. I want going to places like this to be a part of their childhood memory landscape.
Especially since my daughter is so enamored with the animal kingdom. She thrills at telling us all kinds of informative things about the unique and strange. She loves animal habitats and reproduction--eggs and nests and mamas with their babies. So much mamas with their babies. She has this amazing balance between the factual and the imaginative. She'll tell stories about the animals' lives, but she'll also include anatomy and physiology. She'll draw a tree with pine needles and leaves, knowing that doesn't happen, and tell us that it is a magical forest.
So when it's Sunday and you want to sleep in and you want to relax because you've got a five-hour drive home ahead of you and you want to read a book or burrow under the covers, you don't. You get out of bed and shower, and sure, maybe much slower than usual because it's still Sunday, but you don't linger as you might because the day before, right after you leave the wildlife sanctuary, your daughter says from the backseat: "Mama, I didn't like that place." And pauses at the right artful amount to say emphatically, "I loved it! Can we go again tomorrow?"
The above picture? That's why we say yes.