My daughter’s first grade class took a field trip this week to the zoo. I was fortunate enough to be able to take a day off and go with her. I don’t often get the opportunity to do such things so I was really looking forward to it. The kids got to the zoo around 9:15 and Emily was paired with another girl in her class and we were on our own to tour the zoo for a few hours. During our time at the zoo, we ran into other kids and adults and had many conversations where I was referred to as “Emily’s Dad”. This has bothered me before but I am getting used to the term replacing my name. People see my daughter more than they see me so I suppose it is natural for them to remember “Emily” and not me. It is not like I have a difficult name to remember but I constantly have to fight off the feeling that people are dismissing me by not remembering my name. I suppose it is more of a result of my own insecurity than the fault of others. About halfway through zoo trip, however, something happened that showed me how different my daughter is from other kids and that being known as “Emily’s Dad” may not be such a bad thing after all
While walking from one exhibit to another, Emily noticed a bracelet on the ground. Obviously it wasn’t hers but she picked it up anyway and showed it to me. She then asked if we could take it to lost and found. I told her we would drop it off on our way out if she could keep up with it. She said she would hold it and we continued on our way. For the next two hours she tried very hard to ask every little girl she saw if the bracelet was theirs. She went out of her way to chase children down to be sure they were not the one who lost the bracelet. Even when we went to the playground she stopped every little girl she saw and asked them if they had lost a bracelet. Lunch time neared and we made our way toward the exit and dropped the bracelet off with the lost and found. Hopefully it will get back to is owner.
What struck me about this entire situation is that here we were on this trip that I know my daughter has been looking forward to for a while and instead of really enjoying the animals, she spent half of her time trying to do something good for someone else. It was truly amazing to see such an honest gesture and I don’t think I have been more proud of her. I didn’t tell her to do it, she just did it on her own. I’ve said it before and I will say it again…Emily, at her young age, is already a better person than I ever was or ever will be.
I can’t say she gets this compassion and honest desire to help others from me. I am cynical about humanity and I generally think the worst of people. It is almost as if she is kind and compassionate despite my influence and I am OK with that. I am worried about what will happen when her innocence is shattered and she really learns that not everyone cares about the same things as she does. That part of the growing up process will probably hurt me as much as it does her. No need to rush that though. Today my daughter is the sweetest, most compassionate, most honest, and most loving human I have ever known. Thinking about it now being called “Emily’s Dad” isn’t such a bad thing. In fact, I would be both both proud and honored to go to my grave known only as “Emily’s Dad”.