All things bright and beautiful…and a hot dog

When I realized Leo’s Pre-K class was planning a field trip to the zoo and his younger brother’s class wouldn’t be going, I wondered whether Daniel would be upset. But he didn’t seem to care.
I tried not to mention it too often, but when it came up, I made sure Daniel understood this was a school trip just for Leo’s class. Every time we mentioned it, Daniel acted totally indifferent.
Then during breakfast the other day Leo made his grand announcement.
“We got to pick our lunch for the zoo,” he said, “and I am going to get a hot dog.”
That’s when the tears started to flow.
“Can I go to the zoo?” his little brother asked between sobs. “I want a hot dog!”
I assured him we would take another family trip to the zoo sometime soon and have a fantastic time.
He kept crying.
“We can have hot dogs for dinner,” I said.
Moments later, the tears were gone.
Later at school, Daniel waved happily from the window as we boarded the bus to go to the zoo.

I took pictures to share with Daniel, just in case he wanted to see what his big brother was talking about.

But that evening Daniel didn’t care about the rhinos or the warthogs or the baby monkey or the sleeping lioness.

He didn’t join us as we talked about how God had made so many different kinds of animals. Who but God would give a zebra his stripes? Or an elephant her nose and tusks? Who else could create enormous, dozing polar bears?

If Daniel was curious about the animals we saw—and what else he missed during his big brother’s field trip—he didn’t say a word.

Our 3-year-old was too busy eating his hot dog.
It wasn’t our finest hour nutritionally. But if a package of hot dogs is all it takes to help a little brother not feel left out of a field trip, you’ll find me breaking my rule of only going to the grocery store once a week. As a third child of six, I know it won’t always be that easy. And life will be packed with disappointments that I can’t—or won’t—prevent. This was an easy one.

By the way, if you ask Leo what he enjoyed most at the zoo, he’ll tell you it was this baby colobus monkey, though he calls it “the baby lemur.”

But I was there.
And I can tell you the biggest smiles of the day came when he was sinking his teeth into his very own hot dog.

Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.