There is a wonderful place in South Australia, in the Adelaide Hills, called Cleland Wildlife Park. Whenever we go there, or anywhere where there are animals to be truthful, my inner child comes out to play. I love animals and quite often ask random strangers if I can pat their dog.
A few weeks ago Kirby and I took the daughter of our friends, Jess, and one of her friends from school, Georgina, to Cleland. It was for Jess’ birthday, which was actually in June, but the year was so unexpectedly busy for all of us that we were only able to find a day to go recently.
I love spending time with the children of our friends and family. The children are all different ages – from six months old to thirteen years old. The stages they go through, the interests they develop, the characteristics they have, are all so fascinating.
It is true that we would have loved to watch our own children change, develop and grow over the years. I often think about what they would be doing now and one of them, the child that would have come from our first cycle of IVF, would have been starting school next year. I can never forget our children and I wouldn’t want to. As the years pass I will think about them and how they would have been turning thirteen, eighteen, forty, and sixty. I will wonder what they might have done with their lives and what they would have been interested in. I will always wonder about them and keep them in my heart.
We are so fortunate, especially because we can’t have our own kids, to have so many children in our lives – children that we love so very much.
Jess and Georgina absolutely amazed me with their imaginative play in the car on the way to Cleland, with their tender attention to the different animals at the park, with their humour, with their sense of adventure, and with the knowledge they have about wildlife and the environment.
Both girls are nine years old, but they quite capably told the koala keeper, when they were getting a photo with a koala, what koalas eat and how they only eat certain eucalyptus trees, and how koalas use their noses to know which leaves they should eat. The koala keeper looked at us and said “Well I guess my job is done!” I think she was pleased with how much the girls knew.
I don’t know what our children would have been like or what they would have been interested in, but I suspect they may have loved animals if they took after me even a little bit. Whoever they would have been, I would have been delighted if they had the loving, interested, compassionate, and funny characteristics that both Jess and Georgina have.
I would have been absolutely delighted.