Just 6 Years Old Trying to Save the World
Published February 09, 2005
“Mommy, can you put something in the newspaper for me?”
When my 6-year-old asked me this the other day, I knew it had to be important. She doesn’t usually pay much attention to what I write. She used to get a kick out of seeing my picture in the paper every Wednesday, but even that excitement wore off some time ago.
So if Julia cares about my column, something’s up. And it wasn’t too hard for me to figure it out.
Six years ago, when I was holding my sweet little baby girl in the hospital (and enjoying a delicious morphine high), I had no clue that I was staring into the eyes of an activist.
Since then, I’ve learned that my child is out to save the world. She wants a home for every stray animal. She wants every mean person to learn to be nice. And more than anything, she wants to personally save every type of threatened or endangered animal — especially marine mammals.
I admire Julia’s compassion and enthusiasm. But I find it somewhat exhausting.
Our little environmentalist started a “Save the Animals” club at school and signed up everyone in her class. She wants us to build a clubhouse in the backyard so the club can meet there every week. She wants to take all the club members to Moody Gardens and Sea World to see some of the kinds of animals they are trying to save.
So far, the club has prayed on the school playground for some ants who were displaced after a recent rain.
You read that correctly. My daughter prays for ants.
Club activities are not limited to school. The other day at church, Julia went around signing up just about everybody there for her club. And now, through my column, Julia wants to get the whole community involved.
Again, I love that my child cares about animals so much that, given the chance, she would jump into a Greenpeace raft and position herself between a harpoon and a blue whale. When I was her age, I was passionate about making sure my Garanimals matched, and that was about it.
But I’m tired. I have a 5-month-old baby who believes 4:15 a.m. is a great time for the day to begin. I fight a constant battle with my house, including a pile of dirty clothes we have named “Mt. Laundry” that won’t get smaller — no matter how much of it I wash. I’m a minister’s wife with never-ending responsibilities at church. I just don’t have the time or energy to operate the Sierra Club out of my home.
The good news is, as I explained to Julia, that groups already exist with the resources to save endangered animals. A good one is the World Wildlife Fund. They’ve been working to protect hundreds of endangered species around the world since 1961. The organization’s Web site, www.worldwildlife.org, lists several ways you can help.
I’m sure there’s work to be done on the local level, too. I don’t know if the Baytown Nature Center takes 6-year-old volunteers, but I’m going to find out.
I’m really proud of Julia and her club. The truth is that the world could use more kids who pray for ants. Because kids who pray for ants grow up to pray for the impoverished, the elderly, the AIDS-ridden, the homeless — the “ants” of our society that some people wish would just disappear.
Who knows — Julia and her friends just might save the world one day. At least their little corner of it.
Deana Nall’s column appears every Wednesday. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.