I held my 1½ year old nephew in my arms, conscience of the fact that we had only one more day together before I flew back home. Although the stroller was available, I opted to leave it vacant as I cuddled little Zach in my arms, balancing him on my hip for as long as my strength would allow during our long visit to the enormous Henry Doorly Zoo.
We went into the gift shop where I was determined to find him a present that he would cherish forever. I love picking out toys and gifts for my nieces and nephews, but I rarely get the chance to take the kids with me and let them choose something they want. I slowly walked through every aisle, allowing Zach’s little eyes to absorb the overwhelming amount of colorful, plastic, and stuffed toys. With his sweet nature, I thought he might like a stuffed animal.
I watched his face carefully as we moved past the penguins. He was curious, but not love struck. The alligator scared him a little, so I quickly set it back on the shelf. Ducks, bears, and elephants were too unfamiliar to become his security animal of comfort. Finally we came to the kitties and the dogs. “Dog,” he said. I praised him. Still, he seemed to only be showing me what he knew, not asking for the little creature.
When we got to the kitties, his eyes locked on one in particular. Brown, black, and white with bright green eyes. I picked up the stuffed kitty to show him and before I could place it safely in his arms, he practically lunged out of my grasp and wrapped his arms tightly around the kitty. I smiled, knowing we had found our little treasure.
Zach’s expression turned to worry as I coaxed the kitty from him to give to the cashier. “Don’t worry, you’ll get it right back,” I said. “See?” I told him as I put the kitty back into its’ rightful place. Zach held up the kitty for me to kiss, and I did, right on its’ forehead. He smiled at me. From that moment on, whether Zach was in the stroller, in my arms, or walking like a big boy, the kitty never left his tight hold. I hope he loves his kitty for a long time and it brings him the happiness and security that I wished for.