Tonight I got to go on a little date with Zoya. Just her and I. It had been too long since the two of us did something special! We went to her favorite place...the mall...and ate at her favorite restaurant....she had two helpings of mashed potatoes and some grilled chicken. We sat in a booth, just her and I and she knew she was something special. I strive to make her feel like that every day, but sometimes life gets the best of us and we forget to celebrate one another. Today though, she knows beyond a shadow of a doubt how amazing she is and how much her mama loves every fiber of her being! I just sat there looking at how grown up she seems to me lately. How she can carry on a conversation with me that nobody else would understand. Loving her spirit and how she has to wave to every single person who walks by our table, and how she has to stop at every store that plays music and dance a little Zoya-jig. I marveled at how this tiny person became so interwoven with my soul. I memorized her soft smile lines and the glimmer in her eyes. I noticed her desire for independence is not outdone by still needing her mama as her security blanket. I thought about how life might be so very different for her if she were still living in an orphanage in Ukraine....but more than that I thought about how her life is so different now and how grateful I am for that. I noticed the old soul that seemingly knows more than you'd think possible for a child her age.
I was so full of emotion as I saw Zoya displaying empathy for the dogs in the pet shop. As we stopped at the window two of the dogs were playing very roughly. Zoya's eyes got so big and teary and she said "Mama ouch, no, no dog." I told her they were just playing and she sat there with those big tears in her eyes so upset and so worried that those dogs were upset or fighting. She hates when anyone is upset...even when you think you're not showing it on the outside...she knows! Her face grew more and more worried but she wouldn't look away or move from her seat on the floor in front of their window. Finally I picked her up and walked inside the store hoping to avoid the tears. She stopped at every single window and said hi to every single dog. She stopped and held her hand up to some of them, and said "me do" (meaning she wanted to take the dog out). I told her just to say hi and she signed "sad" at one of the dogs that really did seem to be depressed. How could she pick up on that at such a young age? It's part of her being...she was born with empathy. We left. Before we could even get out of the mall, Zoya recounted the story of the dogs "playing" no less than 5 times. She kept asking, "Ow. Ow. Dog. Play????? (in a questioning tone)." And I'd say, "Yes baby, they were just playing. They are okay." The entire ride home, the same words over and over and if I didn't reassure her they were just playing she got upset. She got out of the car and ran to her Daddy and told him the story; I explained. She talked about it until bedtime. I hope she doesn't have nightmares!
My little girl's empathy runs deep. She has a heart as big as the ocean. It's hard to see where it starts or stops and its impossible not to be swept into her beautiful waves and taken under.