One of my favorite parts of parenting is watching my kids interact with nature. Anyone who has had the — sometimes frustrating — experience of taking a walk at toddler pace knows how kids see connection in a way that we as adults tend to cruise right by. Just this week my daughters discovered two bird nests in our yard, and spent hours watching the unmoving eggs within them, which was super sweet to watch.
Almost as sweet as watching the kid-nature interaction flipped. That’s what happened when Emmalina Austin visited Boston’s Franklin Park Zoo with her son Canyon, who is five months old. As Austin approached the glass of the gorilla exhibit holding Canyon, Kiki, a 39-year-old mother gorilla, came right over. She peeked in at Canyon and even tried to hold his hand through the glass.
“I was just in awe,” she told NBC News. “Trying to pet his face through the glass, and trying to hold his hand … just the most beautiful thing. You could see the emotion in her eyes.”
It turns out that Kiki also has a baby boy — 7-month old Pablo. Eventually, when Pablo wandered over to the glass, Kiki pointed out Canyon to him.
“She was showing her baby my baby,” Austin said.
John Linehan, president and CEO of Zoo New England, said that although the moment was a sweet one, Kiki’s interest in infants is nothing new.
“We always joke that if a baby fell into our exhibit, Kiki wouldn’t give it back. She’s so maternal,” he said.
Although Pablo is Kiki’s fifth child, she’s still as enthusiastic about parenting as ever, he said.
“Kiki didn’t put Pablo down for the first two months. She literally held him 24/7. She’s just starting to allow her daughters to take him every once in a while for short periods of time,” Linehan said.
As for Austin, she and Kiki shared a moment that she won’t soon forget.
“It was so beautiful, and we walked out over the moon,” she said. “And we had so many people stop us and tell us that was the most beautiful thing we’ve ever watched. And it was so touching, it really was. You could feel the emotions were just in the air.”
Mindy Kaling Celebrates Intergenerational Households
When single mom Mindy Kaling gave birth to her son Spencer back in September, she became outnumbered by kids. Although Kaling is a single mom, she recently spoke about how help from her dad, who is retired, helps her raise her kids.
“So we have this like little strange little house of like intergenerational, interracial people that are coming in and out to take care of everything,” she said, according to PEOPLE.
Kaling said that being a mom has also helped her artistically.
“I feel my life is so rich,” she said. “If anything, [parenthood] has given me this flooding of memories of my childhood, I feel like I’m able to write even more. … That has been one of the most unexpected pleasures of having children, is being able to tap back into my own youth.”
Kaling is conscious of the fact that her kids are growing up very differently than she did, and she’s trying to make sure that they have risks, despite the privileged life they’ve been born into.
“My parents were immigrants, and they both worked, and they had a different kind of more immediate fear, which is like ‘Okay, we’ve got to put food on the table, build our careers over again,’” she said. “I sometimes try to summon that feeling that my parents had, which is like, if I could just extricate myself a little bit from this, and allow them to experience risk, I think that would be the best for them.”
The Pandemic May Have Made Us Kinder
Let’s be clear: the past year hasn’t been one that any of us would want to repeat. Despite that, there may be a silver lining: nearly 75% of respondents in a recent poll said that they’ve become more aware of others and less selfish during the pandemic.
“It’s been incredibly meaningful to see how the challenges of the last year have caused us to care even more for each other,” said Pat McNeil, a spokesperson for VSP Eyes of Hope, which conducted the survey of more than 2,000 people.
The study found that more people are donating money, and also taking concrete steps, like helping their neighbors with projects or errands.
“This study validates what we’ve been hearing from our employees and charitable partners: people are looking to better the lives of others and their communities because they envision a greater purpose after such a devastating year.”
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