When you live on a farm, animals are naturally a big part of your life—both in and out of the barn. What’s more, with four children, you can be sure the number of animals (aka pets) is going to be a big one. Hoppy was counted in this very big number...
One afternoon Elizabeth and Olivia went to the pond to collect tadpoles in a bucket, but when I saw them coming toward the house, their excitement level was a lot higher than what tadpoles called for. I was right.
Inside the bucket was a bullfrog—a really big bullfrog. I’m talking several pounds big. Olivia was ecstatic. She’d caught him with her own two little hands and couldn’t wait to set up a little home for him…in her room. Yep, that’s right—Hoppy the huge bullfrog was coming inside.
After giving strict instructions as to what would and wouldn’t be allowed, I went on about my business and left the girls to creating their frog oasis. Somehow, though, during the transfer from the bucket to said oasis, Hoppy hopped right out of Olivia’s hands. Olivia didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. All she could do was watch while I hopped after Hoppy. And let me tell you, that frog could jump!
Once he was safely secured, I made the executive decision that Hoppy would be living outside on the patio. No argument was made. For the next couple of days Olivia carefully tended to her new ‘pet. But it didn’t take her long to realize that Hoppy wasn’t very hoppy anymore…or happy. So being the wise little animal lover she was, she returned Hoppy to his real home from where we heard him often.
Some of you might think I was crazy for ever letting Hoppy into our lives (much less our home). But before you pronounce ‘sentence’ think about this: in letting Olivia have her “Hoppy adventure”, she and her siblings learned some important lessons. They learned:
1 That not all animals are destined to be pets.
2. That loving something or someone means you do what’s best for them instead of making their own selfish desires the focal point of it all.
3. A nurturing, safe and healthy environment is essential for happiness.
4. That bullfrogs can jump higher than they (the kids) were tall.
|Olivia's love for animals was a great help on the farm throughout her growing-up years|
As a parent, you need to remember these same lessons. You need to remember that your children need to be provided a safe, loving, healthy environment; one that allows them to grow and develop according to who they are. Don’t stifle them or put them in a ‘cage’ of conformity. Love and nurture them in such a way that they aren't afraid to hop as high as they want to in order to become who they are meant to be.