No Ordinary Trip to the Zoo

We made it to the children’s zoo today, for the first time this year. That’s right, five days before it closes for the season. We’ve had a few things happen this year to make it that way. It was Zach’s first trip to this zoo, and we had to break tradition and not get him his ceremonial stuffed animal. I’ll do that later in the week, and yes I’ll pretend like we got it on his first visit. Sue me. Speaking as a third child, this sort of thing happened to me too. My baby book has my name in it, and I think my birth date. And there are two pictures from my childhood–the day I was born, and the day I graduated high school. As much as I swore I would never be like that with my youngest child, it is very hard to counteract it. Now don’t anyone tell my mom I said that….

The highlight of our trip was to see the new penguins that took over the sea lion tank. I have to admit, it was underwhelming. The two penguins looked bored. But still very cute. Izzy was quite taken with the large rubber duckie they had to play with. Zach was laughing at the wind (he’s a very deep and complex baby. You wouldn’t understand). Jake, our tour guide and resident micromanager, kept us on task. At least, on his task. We saw the new squirrel monkey exhibit, had to explain to the zoo staff that our children didn’t belong in it and to let us take them home. There was that moment of “hmm, here’s our chance…” but we took them home instead. They are awfully cute, and I maintain if we treat them well, we’ll end up in a nice nursing home someday.

Last year we used our zoo membership to its fullest. I hope next year will be the same. I’m becoming less and less afraid of taking all three children out on the town by myself, so maybe we’ll see more of it next summer. I know of two absolutes when it comes to the zoo: first, the kids will want to play in the sand box. Not Steggo’s Big Dig, but the dingy sandbox with old laundry detergent lids for toys, and second, they will play on the sad piece of playground equipment by the Safari Cafe. So basically, they want to go to the park.

When Jacob came of age to go to the zoo, we thought we knew what would excite him. We thought he would love the monkeys, the lizards, all that good stuff. We knew he would love the thing you put the coins in that makes them spin around, and around, and around…….we even expected him to place a small fortune in that thing, but we didn’t anticipate that he would cry if we didn’t do that EVERY visit. He could forgo the train as long as he could watch the coins spin. We never thought the sandbox would be the highlight of our trips there.

And the goat puppies. Oh, the goat puppies. Every time we go there, we have to feed the goat puppies. Goat puppies is a phrase that has lasted about four years, and will last through the end of time if I have my way. A beautiful piece of my kids’ fractured language skills that I want to hold onto as long as I can without impeding them. Like our “nunnies”, the snuggle Jake and I have every night before he goes to bed. And the way Izzy used to say “can I want some, some of that?” if she wanted a some of my ice cream. And the best will always be “Baby Milk Farts.” You might know it as “Baby Mozart.” Anyhoo….

There is never a predictable trip to the zoo. What I didn’t predict about this one was how calm it was. Taking three children anywhere, no matter how many adults are present, usually lends itself to mass chaos and tears, most of them from mommy and daddy. Aside from a brief meltdown from my over-thinking son, it was calm. Peaceful. Zach was happy to be carried and happy to ride in the stroller. Jake liked to run ahead with Josh, and Izzy liked to hang back with me and push the stroller. They took turns, they shared. It was beautiful.

Until we got back into the car and drove home. Welcome home, Wolfe family.

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