Monday, April 21, 2008

We're Going to the Zoo Today

No matter where you are, if you have little ones at home, a tiny radar goes off in your head on the first sunny and warm weekend of the year: Must go to zoo, it says. Must go to zoo.

And so, whether you have a prison tatoo or are wearing a "Jesus Christ Died for You" T-shirt--or both, you head to the zoo with great expectations: a fun day with the kids. And you leave with no one in your family speaking to each other.

By that time, the sun beating down on your tired back has proved to be too much. Especially for the children. As we left the zoo Sunday, for instance, Richie was loudly weeping all the way to the car. "The car is too far," he cried. "The car is too far."

Sometimes, it's the grownups who are throwing a temper tantrum.

I remember being at the zoo one day and some kids asked their grandma to buy them Doritos. In response, she yelled, "You kids are driving me crazy!"

And they looked at her as if to say, "But Grandma, you already were crazy."

As a kid, I remember going to the zoo on 100 degree days and staring at the seals swimming in their pool. It was the most insanely jealous I've ever felt in my life. And yet, I bring my own children in the summertime. It's just what you do.

Sometimes it's fun. Other times, I have to admit, a trip to the zoo can be more stressful than you would think.

This weekend, we went at around 2:00 on Sunday. From the looks of things, Tube Top Day at the Zoo was already in full swing. Anyone pushing a stroller while wearing a tube top and eating a corndog got half off their Fosters beer. Just kidding. It wasn't Tube Top Day--but do you remember when they had that at Royals games? If you wore a tube top to the stadium you got--I don't know, something. A sunburn maybe.

But the tube tops are just an observation and didn't cause me any stress, per se.

It was J.J.'s hour-long fit he threw when I took off his sweatshirt to prevent him from overheating in the 80 degree weather. The elephants cheered him up, but he was looking for something even bigger. "I want to see the dinosaurs," he kept saying.

He refused to ride in the stroller so we meandered along the path. It took us three hours to see about as many animals. When I finally wrestled him into the stroller, he put his feet down, like Fred Flinstone brakes.

But what made the trip worthwhile was the mangabies, which had a little baby. It would hop a couple feet away and then run back to its mother and hold on for dear life.

Have you ever noticed how well behaved other species' children are? Boys and girls and puppies are the only trouble makers, it seems. And yet, they are the most lovable of all. I wonder why that is.

I was sure the mangabies would be the highlight of the boys' day, too, since they were oohing and ahing over it. But when I asked Johnny what his favorite part of the zoo was, he said, "The ice cream."

"What about the baby monkey?" I asked.

"Oh, yeah, that was cute," he said. "It was my third favorite part."

"What was your second?"

"Probably the corn dog."

Oh, well. At least it sounds like an animal. And I'm sure everybody had more fun than they let on. Either way, we'll be back. It's what we do.


Blogger Tim Higgins said...


It has been some time since there were little ones at home, but I do seem to vaguely recall the experience. It's true that the zoo does call as the weather warms though. The problem as I look back however is just what you were talking about, our frenetic efforts to see everything in one visit, as if the zoo would disappear if we didn't. In our rush to show our children the nature of wild animals, we seem to succeed only in creating some. Of course the healthy dose of exercise, along with the even healthier diet during such visits only contributed to the self-inflicted pain. But this is what we do to entertain and educate our offspring.

You spoke of the well behaved younger animals that you saw, and it may well have been true; but I venture to say that if those same animals were loaded up with corn dogs and sugar and led on forced marches, that their behavior might have been less than exemplary. Meanwhile, we have to wonder at the display that we put on for them.

8:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ice Cream is my favorite part everyday!

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm so glad you're recording all the funny things they say. We'll all be able to enjoy them now whenefer we need a good dose of inocent humor and the grands. Mom

8:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is a small window for a successful zoo exit...just after lunch and before nap...if you miss are in BIG trouble!!!!! remember the camels???? at the KC zoo???
too funny!!

11:44 AM  

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