Earlier this week we visited Papanack Zoo. We got there on a hot afternoon and many of the animals were sleeping. Just when we thought we would not see much during our visit, we discovered that one of the zookeepers went around and, following a published schedule, fed the different animals so that visitors would be able to view them.
What a gift this man was to us. We followed him around from the monkeys to the lions, the boars and the Siberian tigers. He told us about each of the animals as he was feeding them, and we learned all kinds of interesting tidbits that we would have never known had we just walked around on our own.
Zookeeper at Papanack Zoo, feeding and caring for wild animals: now that is a very different career path! Life is so incredibly diverse, and people are so widely varied in their talents and interests. There is something out there for everyone.
If one of our children decides that he or she would like to be a zookeeper one day, why not? It often seems that parental hopes get concentrated on the hallowed trinity of doctor, lawyer, or finance, with only a handful of other paths acceptable as alternatives. It is understandable that parents want for their children what such careers represent: money, status and prestige in society. But do we really need to chase those things in order to be happy?
In the book Compass, James Stenson discusses how parents are first and foremost raising children of character. The path these children take in their working lives is far less important than the type of person they are. We want them, above all, to be in Stenson's words "competent, responsible, considerate, and generous men and women who are committed to live by principles of integrity". If we raise a zookeeper with these qualities, we will be proud indeed.