The kids and I along with Sydney went to the Kansas City Zoo yesterday morning.
We had plans for a fun day. We wanted to show my niece all of our favorite exhibits at the zoo and catch some that we haven’t seen yet.
One exhibit that we really wanted to see was the Wings of Wonder Bird Show. I love exotic birds and this has been on my radar since our first visit several weeks ago. As soon as we arrived, MC started talking about the bird show and we checked on the time of the next showing.
We walked around the zoo for a bit and then headed back towards the entrance building where the show would be.
As we walked in to find seats I could tell that my son was a bit nervous about it.
He slowly made his way down the stairs into the auditorium one anxious step at a time, hesitating at every single one.
He finally made it to our seats and I had him sit on the end of the aisle in case we had to make a get away.
I could tell that he wasn’t feeling up to it.
I showed him the stage and told him that the birds wouldn’t be leaving the stage. That he would be safe with me and there would be nothing to fear.
He seemed to calm down a bit.
And then a family walked by talking about how exciting it was that the birds would be flying all around us.
That was NOT what we needed to hear.
I was just about to tell Will not to pay attention to them when I glanced around me to see trees and branches of trees right above our heads.
So…okay…I adjusted my story a bit.
I told Will that maybe the birds would be flying around, but they wouldn’t land close to us and there was still nothing to fear…I would be with him the whole time. All would be okay.
And then it was time for the show to start.
We received instructions to stay in our seats and not to put our hands in the air as the birds were flying by.
For our safety and the safety of the birds.
Will started whining as soon as he heard this and tears sprang to his eyes.
They brought out the first bird who began prancing around the stage.
With every movement Will jerked in his seat and whimpered a bit.
Then the bird flew over us to a handler in the back of the auditorium.
Will began crying and whining and nervously ducked his head.
I knew at that moment that we, or rather Will and I, would not be staying for the show.
Before Will’s whines could turn into full on screams I mouthed to Sydney that we would be outside and quickly lead Will out, holding onto my hand.
We sat together in the food court as my girls and Sydney enjoyed the show.
Honestly, I was disappointed and, yes, frustrated and a bit angry.
I was tempted to let Will know just how disappointed I was.
But, I looked over at Will and I could tell that he was feeling defeated and sad.
I didn’t have to tell him how disappointed I was…I think he knew.
We sat in silence for a while and then I handed him a map of the zoo to look at. Will loves maps and he studied this map as we chatted about the animals he wanted to see later in the day.
Will didn’t need me to yell at him. He didn’t need me to give him the silent treatment. He didn’t need to shoulder my anger, frustration or disappointment.
Will needed my understanding and patience.
He needed my support.
He needed to know that no matter how disappointed I am, I am still on his side and I will always be there to love and support him.
He needed to know that it’s okay to be afraid and that he can come to me with his fears with fear of my reprimand.
That’s what all of our children need from us when they are hurting.
I don’t always get it right when it comes to parenting and giving my children what they need from me in moments like this, but I am learning.