“We’re going to see animals at the zoo,” we told her, buckling her into the carseat. “Lions and elephants and giraffes and monkeys…”
“And other kids?” She squealed, clapping her hands. “And babies?”
It was a Tuesday morning and we arrived at opening time but it was a cool day for July and cloudy and it seemed all of Pittsburgh also picked that day for the zoo.
There were camps of elementary kids, a crowd from an adult daycare facility, and countless moms with small children. We couldn’t get close enough to see without wedging and pushing, so we turned off and went through backward, starting with sea lions and the kids’ petting area.
I thought she’d love the animals. She knows most of their pictures now, knows their sounds. And she did, especially ones close to the glass.
But what she really loved where the other kids; and running headlong up the paths, or back and forth over swinging bridges.
At the sea lions she laughed when they splashed, but stopped watching when two other little girls approached. Standing with the stroller I saw her slip quietly over beside the other girl, look lovingly at her face, then shoulder-to-shoulder look out at the sea lions.
Home again on Wednesday we walked the dog and Henry slept despite her kisses and rough affection. She watched him for a minute before deciding she was tired too.
“I falling seep,” she said. “I so lonely.”
She doesn’t know what the word means, but somehow it seems true. Everywhere we go she asks again: Other kids? At church? At the grocery store? At the deserted playground behind the ballfield at the top of the hill?
I guess I need to find her a friend.