We have been going to the Dakota Zoo my whole entire life.
Since I have been a mom, it is a summer tradition. We always buy a membership and spend many hours watching stinky animals sleep in the shade (as my non-zoo-loving husband likes to say). It is not too big and not too little. It is a great place to wander for an afternoon and explore.
Joshua came home TERRIFIED of animals.
(note the caps, bold, and underline above)
He would go to the zoo, but it did not bring him ANY joy.
Slowly as so many prayers were answered, Joshua began to be curious about animals. First, he tolerated our dog. That "relationship" blossomed into true love. And I quote, "I love Riley soooo much! He is the best dog in the whole world!"
Then he decided horses were WAY cool. (Grandpa rejoiced!)
Slowly, more and more animals were added to his list of likes.
Today, we went to the zoo for the first time this season. Joshua's reaction shocked, awed, and excited me. He LOVED the zoo. He grabbed my hand and walked me from habitat to habitat wanting to know all about each animal. It was so fun!
He also shocked us when he WALKED through the whole entire zoo. That is a sign of serious commitment on Joshua Gebeyehu Chad Dietrich's part. No joke. He is so strong and fast in comparison to when he arrived. Yet, he continues to have less stamina than most kids his age. It is very unusual for him to be able to walk as far and as long as he did today. He was excited and determined!
He was also completely exhausted by the end of the day! He was asleep before prayers were said tonight!
I know loving the zoo does not seem like big deal. Truly, I would not be disappointed if Joshua never liked the zoo. However, his enjoyment today symbolizes (to me) growth, confidence, and healing and that is HUGE.
Here are a couple of photos of Joshua and Brenna from today that I will hide in my heart forever.
(When I was a kid the star of the zoo was a bear named "Clyde." My littles are pictured in front of a life-size sculpture of the bear I grew up going to see.)
This makes my heart sigh.
I am so very thankful for the absolute sibling bond that my white-skinned, blond-haired, blue-eyed Brenna and her brown-skinned, black-haired, brown-eyed brother share. They may not "match" on the outside, but they are totally, completely siblings in every way that matters.
But God. . .