We began to let him know that there are ways to keep animal species alive. This was prime information to him. Soon we were learning about deforestation, pollution, global warming, poaching. We let him know that species are endangered because of a consequence of our human action and conservationists work to reverse the trend. Again, to him, learning about these things in isolation wasn't enough, he wanted to know which of these global issues affected which species. Each one. As you can imagine, mommy and daddy are getting way over our heads. "I don't know buddy, maybe we can look it up." became a catch phrase. As a piece of parental manipulation, we said one day that if you don't turn off your lights when you aren't using them it will waste electricity and maybe melt the polar ice caps a little bit. Today, lights are never left on. In fact, he'll make sure his new sister turns off the lights too.
What do you want to be when you grow up? "I want to go stop the poachers."
Four-year-old empowerment step: I can do something to help animals.
By now, we realize we have a little activist on our hands. As a teacher at an international school, I have worked intimately with global issues. Soon, all those beautiful maps in those info-packed animal encyclopedias began to be used. Continents and oceans soon turned into countries and regions. The first time I saw him point and name "Patagonia" I about fell over. He'd then tell me some of the animals that live there. He began being able to do this all over the map.