Sunday, November 13, 2005

Whose Idea Was the Zoo Trip?

Yes, it's been a while since I posted an entry. I'm not good at journaling.

One recent Friday I decided that it was such a beautiful day and since we didn't have school I would take the kids to our local zoo. Since there was no school and it was beautiful, EVERYONE decided that they would go to the zoo. We walked up to pay and to buy a cup of food for the goats only to be told that the family in front of us bought the last cup of food. There were so many people that day, the staff were afraid that the goats would be overfed. That's okay, we've still got the train ride. Nope. The train was out of service. Ah. Our day had begun.

We got into the zoo with a surprising lack of trauma from the news of no food and no train. I think my kids were just happy to be able to run around and see some animals. (Just for reference, my daughter is 5 and my son is 2.)

Now, keep in mind, this is a rescue zoo. Most of the animals they have there have come from not so great conditions and some may have developed some not so great behaviors. I keep forgetting this.

We walked up to the first monkey cage and the monkey took a keen interest in my son. They stood there looking at each other and I said, "Look Buddy! He wants to be your friend!" At which time my son's new "friend" climbed to the bottom of his cage, picked up a rather large rock and proceded to hurl it in the direction of my son's head. Luckily, the monkey was not a good shot. Buddy was not hit, but he sure screamed like he was. Amid his sobs I said something like, "Oh look! He wants to be a quarterback, too! He's trying to throw the rock like a football!" And we left the monkeys.

There was a bear in the lion enclosure. I'm still not sure why.

So we went and looked at the tigers, the cheetahs, the bears, no lions, the pigs and the tortoises. Time for lunch. They have a picnic area with tables, vending machines and the like. We had packed some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with grapes, crackers, and other kids stuff. So we unpacked the lunches and sat down. Now, in the picnic area they have a variety of birds wandering around. There are chickens, roosters (the kids love it when they crow) a duck or two and several peacocks. Most people throw them crumbs which they seem happy to nibble on. That's one of the reasons we brought some crackers. Well, did you know that peacocks like peanut butter sandwiches? Me neither. I turned around to get something from the stroller and heard my daughter scream. I now know what a bloodcurdling scream sounds like. I wheeled back around to see my daughter scrambling away from the picnic table alternately falling and running and this huge peacock ON THE TABLE taking her sandwich. Her brother was so scared that all he was doing was covering his eyes and screaming. So what did I do? I tried to keep my head. I shooed the peacock. Did you know that peacocks like peanut butter sandwiches so much that they will not back down when shooed by a freaked out mom? He finished his sandwich and then calmly strolled off of the table. My daughter was completely traumatized and wouldn't sit back down (who could blame her? Those peacocks are huge!) and my son was still sitting at the table with his hands over his eyes screaming. I thought, Okay, it's time to go. I put them both in the stroller and that's when the bees got into the action. They heard that there was jelly with the peanut butter. So now both kids were in the double stroller surrounded by bees. More screaming. Not all of it was coming from them.

I leaned over and made a huge mistake. I should have given them the correct itenerary from that point. "Children, we are now going to leave the picnic area and go calmly to pet the goats. After we pet the goats, we will calmly and happily leave the zoo since we now have seen everything." What I said, over the screaming, was, "Okay! We're going! We're going!" More screams. This time the screaming was, "NO! We can't go! We have to pet the goats! No!"

At this point in the story, I became THAT mom. You know, the one you see and it makes you feel good about the way you parent because you couldn't possibly be THAT bad. Yeah. And did I mention that there were a LOT of people at the zoo that day?

I leaned over and took my daughter's wrists (because they were flailing about trying to shoo away the bees that were no longer there - I think they had gotten tired of the screaming) and got in her face and told her to just be quiet. Then I realized that she wasn't going to be quiet in any way, shape or form so I just gritted my teeth, loaded the rest of the stuff and started pushing the stroller. So now here's THAT mom with THOSE kids (my son still had his hands over his face and was still screaming - the exact thing that I wanted to do at this point) trying to push a cheap double stroller over a dirt path, down a hill to a petting zoo.

By God's grace nothing traumatic happened during our time with the goats. I even got a few very cute pictures of my daughter hugging them. Ah. A very nice end to a stressful trip.

Not so fast. There's still the parking lot.

We got to the car and I got the kids in their car seats and buckled in. Then the one bee who had been fashionably late to the peanut butter and jelly party decided to come and see what it had missed. So it flew into the car. My daughter started screaming and kicking and pulling at the straps to her car seat. My son, yet again, put his hands over his eyes and just screamed. (I actually admire the simplicity of his reaction.) My daughter was screaming, "Close the door! Close the door!" So I did. Then the absurdity of that action hit me. Now both of my kids were strapped into their little seats AND a bee was trapped inside with them. It was then that I began to laugh. Finally. I almost started to look for the hidden cameras. But I decided that I should deal with the situation first. So I opened ALL of the doors and let the poor, scared and now deaf bee out of the car. Then I threw any remains of any peanut butter and jelly out of the car to throw off any bee who might be looking for it, jumped in the car and left the zoo behind.

We turned off of the small street from the zoo onto the main road and we saw a dog trotting merrily down the center stripe. After the day we had just had, I thought for sure that we were about to witness something completely horrible. So I pulled off the road and the dog made a beeline (sorry) right for us. Thank goodness!!! She seemed very sweet, but the thought of putting a strange dog in the car with my two children who were captives in their saftey seats did not appeal to me. But another Good Samaritan pulled over just about that time. He asked if I needed help and I told him the situation (minues the bees and the peacocks - he seemed only interested in the dog). He said that he lived in the neighborhood and his kids might know where the dog lived. So he opened his car door and the dog jumped happily in and they were off. Whew.
And that's where our adventure ends. We went home and my son had a three hour nap.

I still love our little zoo. But we haven't been back since then. We'll go again some day, but not without backup. And not with peanut butter and jelly.

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