The Working Mom by Kay Luna

My little researcher

Tuesday, March 20th, 2012 10:53 am

My 5-year-old daughter loves birds. She especially loves peacocks, with their regal blue-and-green feathers, and has declared she wants to know as much as possible about them.

Photo by Quad-City Times photographer Jeff Cook

She asked several times throughout the winter when the zoo would open again, so she could interview – yes, she said “interview” – a zookeeper about peacocks and possibly other birds.

As a reporter, I was thrilled, and of course I fully support and encourage her inquisitiveness. And don’t you love that she wanted to go straight to the expert to ask questions?! LOVE, I say.

Bursting with pride, I assured her that we would, indeed, seek out a zookeeper in the spring, but that didn’t suffice. She kept talking about it, probably to make sure, a) I took her seriously and,  b) I wouldn’t forget.

She talked about peacocks so often at preschool that one of her teachers spent extra time with her at the computer, helping her research facts and download photos of peacocks and put them into a special “book” for her. I thought that was so nice that I wrote a handwritten thank-you card to the teacher, and I hope she showed her bosses.

Then, as soon as the zoo opened again recently, I told Babycakes we would finally get her questions answered.

But I told her she would have to ask the questions herself.

Her request: That I would take notes for her, since she doesn’t know how to write yet. Good point, Miss Babycakes.

I said yes.

So, she planned her wardrobe the night before to look “professional.” Again, her description. She picked a nice dress, tights and a pink-sequined purse. She’s got fashion-sense, that girl.

When we packed some snacks and headed to the zoo the next day, and she was so excited. And the minute we got there, she was on the lookout for bird experts.

Luckily, we happened upon a couple of zoo employees who were giving some kind of treatments to birds in an enclosure and got their attention. I explained that my daughter was interested in learning more about peacocks and wondered if they could help.  One stepped forward, and I held my breath, waiting to see how my girl would react.

She was quiet for a second, gathering her thoughts. Or maybe trying not to chicken out. I’m not sure.

But I got her started with the first question I knew she wanted to ask, which was, “How do they comb their feathers?”

After that, she was on a roll. She had quite the conversation with this zoo employee about peacock feather colors, what peacocks eat and how she’s noticed a lot of people wear dresses and hair apparel made of peacock feathers.

By the time this was over, I wanted to squeal thanks to everyone I could see.  I just felt so grateful to this young woman who had taken the time to help my daughter fulfill one of her goals. I was so proud of Babycakes for her determination to make this happen. And honestly, I was a little proud of myself for making sure she was able to get it done, too.

Afterward, she said to me, “Can you believe it? I wasn’t even scared!”

As parents, we are our kids’ first and most important teachers. How do you encourage your kids to learn new things outside of their classrooms?

2 Responses to “My little researcher”

  1. Kay Says:

    Wow! How exciting to watch a child learn! I am glad Babycakes kept your attention focused on her desire to learn about peacocks. We encouraged our kids just as you’ve done here.–Provide opportunities and introduce “experts”.

  2. reuther Says:

    They’re the ones that make the noise you can hear all over the zoo – MeeAWWW! Some folks keep them as pets and the bird equivalent of watch dogs. The famous American author Flannery O’Connor who studied writing at the University of Iowa kept them for pets at her home in Georgia. Images of peacock feathers often decorate the dust jackets of her books. Imagine waking up to a chorus of those MeeAWWWs. Let’s hope the little one doesn’t talk you into getting one. Great blog.

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