When I was pregnant and planning Sean’s nursery, I wanted to create a design that would be suitable for a baby, a boy and beyond so that I wouldn’t have to re-do it again three years later. So that meant no bunnies or little ducks (or licensed characters which offend my delicate visual sensibilities) or anything too babyish which he would soon outgrow.
I found this safari fabric and fell in love with it and decided to build my nursery design around it. Five years later, Sean has outgrown the crib and mobile and we’ve turned his changing table into a little dresser, but for the most part, the room is still the same. And he still loves it and I still love it. I have no plans to re-do his room any time soon.
The thing that I didn’t foresee when I picked out that fabric is how it would shape him. Since he was a little guy, he has had a deep and abiding love for zoo animals and all I can attribute that to is the subliminal influence of the fabric.
We got a zoo membership when he was two and we way more than get our money out of it. We have books on every kind of animal, and thanks to my mom, we have every Jack Hanna video ever made. Most 5-year-old boys love Power Rangers or Transformers. Sean loves Jack Hanna. And I am really more than okay with that.
Consequently, Sean has become a miniature Jack Hanna stalker. He talks about Jack all the time and wonders what Jack would think about this animal or that.
The other day he asked me if I would write a letter to Jack Hanna so of course I said I would. I went to his website and sent off an email telling him that he had a very small big fan and that we surely do appreciate all he does for our animal friends. When I told Sean that I had sent the email his eyes twinkled with delight. He said he wanted to be just like Jack Hanna when he grows up. I said I thought that would be awesome.
“Do you think he’ll write back?” he asked.
“Jack’s a pretty busy guy,” I said. “We’ll just have to see.”
“Well if he does, let’s invite him over. I want to show him my room!”
The very next day I got a response from one of Jack’s people – not just an automatic assembly line perfunctory “thanks for writing” response, but a gracious note from a real person who had obviously taken the time to read what we had written. I was impressed. I read it to Sean when he got home from school today and he was thrilled.
If Sean does grow up to be like Jack Hanna – married to one woman for 40 years, a father and a grandfather, kind to animals and children, one who responds promptly and graciously to letters, I will be okay with that. More than okay.