Reflecting on Kindness: A Valuable Lesson in Empathy

By _Amaya_Collins_ April 16, 2019

In this exclusive “Reflecting on Kindness” series, Ponysitters Club members reflect on moments from episodes that allowed them to express different forms of kindness.

In this week’s journal entry, Olivia demonstrates kindness through the themes of responsibility, vulnerability, empathy, nurturing, parenthood. She shares how these themes allowed her to express kindness by accepting responsibility and treating animals with love and care.

In “Springtime Foal” (S02E010), Olivia is enjoying taking care of a group of baby ducks with Trish and Ethan when it becomes clear that they’ve “imprinted” on her — they think she’s their mother! Now, this accidental mama duck has to teach her babies everything she knows (and lots she doesn’t know) about how to be a good duck. It’s a valuable confidence and empathy building experience for Olivia, who doesn’t come by her animal whisperer skills as naturally as some of the other Ponysitters. Plus, they’re super cute (obviously).

Dear diary,

I never thought I’d be saying this, not for a looong time anyway, but being a parent is hard work! I mean, I’ve only been raising ducks for one day and I’m exhausted — how does anyone have the energy to raise human children? Okay, let me back up. We recently took in some new ducklings from a lake not too far from Rescue Ranch. I guess their mother got into a boating accident, but the boat owner was kind enough to notice that she had eggs that were about to hatch, so he gathered them up and brought them to us right away so they didn’t freeze or hatch with no one around.

After they hatched, Trish and Ethan helped set up a little pen for them and I got a hot water bottle to stand in as a mother until we could talk to Skye and Grandpa and see how they thought we could help them. They didn’t seem to take to their water bottle mama at first, so I hopped in the pen with them and tried to show them that it was okay. They still didn’t care about the hot water bottle, but they sure took to me! They huddled around my feet and gave me little nips with their little beaks and followed me all around the pen. I had become their new mother duck!

Diary, I don’t think I have to tell you that I don’t know the first thing about being a duck, let alone a mother duck. Billy told me that the ducklings had “imprinted” on me — apparently, when ducklings are born, they latch onto the first moving thing they see and follow it around. It’s supposed to be their mother, but it can be just about anything, from a dog to a model train to a human girl apparently!

I didn’t ask for it, but I knew I had a responsibility to these poor confused ducklings to be the best fake mama duck I could be. I got them to practice walking in a line, hopping over some small logs, and Grandpa brought in a kiddie pool for us to splash around in. Those little duckies have SO much energy — you’d think after fighting your way out of an egg you’d want a bit of a break! Billy helped blend up some food for them as well — I may be a pretty good duck mom but I am NOT qualified to chew their food for them.

I really came to love my new little friends in a hurry and it made all the hard work keeping them active and busy feel like just playing and having fun. When it was their bedtime I reintroduced them to the hot water bottle, and this time they all huddled around it and went straight to sleep! I guess they just needed someone they trusted to show them it was okay. It made me feel amazing to have other creatures that trust me and rely on me to keep them safe and happy — I was nervous at first that they wouldn’t like me or I’d teach them the wrong things, but they seem to be shaping up to be first-rate ducks to me! I just hope once we can finally release them back into the wild that they won’t forget to visit their dear old mom once in a while! Later, diary ?

Did you know that kids can become a real member of the Ponysitters Club? Learn how to join and be sure to inspire your kids to be doers by downloading the 4‑H Inspire Kids to Do Activity Guide!