Friday, May 23, 2014

'Swagman's' Field-Trip

One of our current volunteers, Logan, kindly agreed to write a guest post about her experience accompanying Seth on a recent field-trip.

When you are a kid, field-trips are awesome. It’s a fun day of skipping out on normal routine, like taking naps for instance, and enjoying the adventure of a new place. When you are an adult, field-trips become slightly less enchanting. When you are an adult and your field-trip buddy is a three year old boy, field-trips become a workout.

New Day got the wonderful opportunity to visit the Beijing Wildlife Park this past Wednesday, and I got the opportunity to go along. I met my buddy Seth as we were loading the bus that morning. I couldn’t stop smiling and talking about how cute he was in his Batman T-shirt and sideways hat. His nickname quickly became “Swagman”, and he had the personality to fit.

Among New Day’s parade of strollers at the park, five lucky kids were getting the privilege of independence that day, otherwise known as walking. Seth was one of the walkers, and he walked all over that park….through the dirt, in the bushes, down random paths, in between other visitors… I quickly discovered that Seth was not a big fan of holding hands, so I spent most of my day running after a rambunctious toddler. Seth, however, was having the time of his life! He tried to feed his snack to a chimpanzee, chased peacocks in the Tropical Bird House, and almost made it into the rabbit enclosure.

Like most three-year-olds Seth is fiercely independent when he wants to be. But also like most three-year-olds, there were times when he wanted to depend on me. As we visited each new animal at the park, I would lift Seth up onto the ledge and let him press his hands against the glass. I stood behind him the entire time holding him up with my arms wrapped around his waist. One time, while we were looking at some monkeys, I moved one of my hands from his waist to his back. With barely any other reaction, he reached out his arm, grabbed my hand, and pulled it back around him. This happened many other times throughout the day as we were looking at animals, when we went on a safari drive, and while we were riding the carousel.

Seth’s desire for the comfort and security of my arms wrapped around him reminds me of how most children are with their parents as they grow up. As kids we long for our independence, we want to run around with no rules or consequences when everything seems safe. We don’t want boundaries or hands to hold when we’re having fun. But as soon as a situation becomes overwhelming, or we feel frightened, we instinctively know where we can find comfort and security. The arms of our parents, and those that love us, will always be our safe place.

All in all, the field-trip was a huge success. Everyone had a great time looking at the animals, enjoying the sunshine, and running around. But the best part just might have been the bus ride home when Seth was perfectly content to cuddle in my arms and fall asleep. Even Swagman needs a break once in a while.

This post was written by Logan.

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