Then we grabbed some lunch-- a slice of pizza to share. It was a great morning, actually. I don't ever take my girl time with Anna for granted.
There were school groups everywhere, as is often the case at the zoo. But as we were leaving, I noticed a boy sitting by himself at a table, obviously friend-less and very alone.
(Full disclosure: In seven years teaching, I never figured out how to deal with the emotions I feel regarding the excluded kids. It got so bad that there was a while there when I would avoid leaving my classroom at lunch for fear of seeing a kid like this one, sitting alone in the hallway, waiting for the bell to ring so their humiliation could end. It kills me. KILLS me.)
So we walked by him and I gave him a weak smile, then Anna and I proceeded to the aquarium so we could see a couple more things:
But I could not get this kid out of my head. I know I was only seeing him for a tiny second of his life, and maybe his life is totally happy otherwise, but this second was just so painful that it brought tears to my eyes.
So that night, Anna and I said our prayers. Our prayers consist of two things: Things we thank God for and things to ask God for (hey, I'm a work in progress here). Anna always thanks God for "Uncle Chris" and her "Cousin Uncle Patrick". We usually pray for Grandma, Ye Ye and Nie Nie, and all of our friends.
But this night, I said, "Let's say a prayer for the lonely boy at the zoo. That he finds a friend."
Anna agreed, and that was that. But then the next night, after a fabulous day at the art fair, when we said our prayers....
... her first words were, "We have to pray for the lonely boy at the zoo."
I smiled, of course, and said yes. And then the next night, and every night since then.
Finally a couple weeks ago she had an epiphany. "Momma? The lonely boy needs a friend."
I said, "Yes, Bubbie, the lonely boy does need a friend."
She thought about it for a second. "How about I be his friend?"
A woman in her thirties who is a mom has many proud moments. My day is filled with proud moments. But I can't think of anything that makes me more proud than my sweet Anna's enormous heart.