Monday, June 28, 2010

Put Me In the Zoo

Every couple months, my 2 1/2 year old daughter falls in love with Robert Lopshire's Put Me in the Zoo. She'll want to read it over and over. Before naptime. Before bedtime. And any time in-between. Until finally either me or my husband snap and we hide the book.

But despite the fact that at the moment I have zero desire to touch Put Me in the Zoo, I can still appreciate how subtle the message is. Most kids stuff these days beats you over the head with its message - be a good friend, don't hit, share your toys, etc. But a classic like Put Me in the Zoo isn't nearly as message-oriented, and as an adult, I sure appreciate it.

The, er, creature in the book (Seriously, what is that thing? I asked my daughter, and she told me a dog.) wants to live in the zoo. The zookeepers proclaim that he's unwanted, and they toss him out. A boy and girl follow, and ask why he thinks he should be in the zoo. The creature then proceeds to entertain them with all the things he can do with his spots. He can make them different colors, he can juggle them, he can make them various sizes, he can put them on all kinds of things, and so on. With everything that he can do, the dog-like creature is confused about why the zoo doesn't recognize his value and put him in the zoo!

Then the little boy points out that the zoo isn't really the best place for him - the circus actually better fits his skills.

The book closes with an illustration of the creature looking very happy in front of an audience, stating, "Yes! This is where I want to be. The circus is the place for me!"

How often am I so focused on where I want to be, where I want to go, where I think I belong, that I completely miss out on something that would be even better? That would bring me more satisfaction? That would fit my abilities in a more complete way?

I guess it's good my daughter wants to read the book so many times, because this is a lesson I'm constantly relearning. Closed doors are often an invitation to let go of my sub par dreams and embrace the richness of God's plans for me.


Jacob said...

My kids are grown, and I never read "Put me in the Zoo." Thank you for sharing its lesson, one I too need to keep reminding myself. Being goal oriented isn't bad, or that's what I keep telling myself. What I should keep in mind is that I need to stay humble and listen for directions from God. You are blessed because little children are good at helpinp with that.

weekdaypoet said...

I adored that book when I was quite a bit older than your daughter, I'm afraid. For me--and for most kids I would imagine--it's all the different spots that are the real draw, but I think the message did sink in there nice and subliminally too. :-)

Stephanie Morrill said...

Jacob - yes, kids are quite humbling!

"Weekdaypoet" - I think you're right. My daughter calls it "the spot book."