Saturday, May 22, 2010

I'd Even Do it Again

Last week I faced one of my most hated foes: THE ZOO.

Even people who have accidentally brushed past me in a Starbucks can immediately sense that I am not a zoo lover.

My intense dislike of animals, coupled with their poop, heat, small children, gigantic strollers, and an obscenely long commute make the zoo somewhere I only go under duress. Picture me bound and gagged in the back of a white industrial van and you'll get the idea.

Last year, I took one for the preschoolers, thinking it would be my chance to bid a permanent farewell to the zoo and it's inhabitants. Perhaps I was even cheerful for a moment or two, thinking I'd never again have to pretend to be enthralled by sleeping zebras.

{Just so you don't think I'm totally heartless, I DO love to ride the carousel while secretly pretending to be Mary Poppins.}

Well, as you can tell from the peacock that cornered me and forced me to take his picture, I had to go to the zoo. Again. There is a lot of pressure as a kindergarten parent to be excited(!) and involved(!) and there is pretty much a 1:1 ratio of kids to parents at every.single.event.

So here's where I can be honest and say that it was unverbalized kindergarten parent peer pressure that forced me to go.

Plus, this is where I should probably confess some recent parental neglect in the last two weeks.

Act 1: Egg Drop Day Apparently every child had a lovingly packaged egg to drop off the roof except Lilly.

Act 2: Pajama Day Apparently every child wore their pajamas to school except Lilly.

(And her friend, Audrey. It's important to pick other neglectful parents for friends.)

At this point you can probably determine that going to the zoo was non-negotiable if I didn't want to be black listed this early in her school career.

So I went.

Praise God they give parents an option where you can get a nice grande Starbucks and meet the bus down there instead of actually riding on it. That would've taken a whole different level of commitment and medication.

And as you can imagine, the zoo was very zoo-like. Smelly, crowded, sticky, 15-minute lines for bathrooms, eating hot sack lunches while geese wander at your feet...the whole bit.

But fast-forward to bedtime.

"Lilly, what was your favorite thing at the zoo?"

"I don't know..." (She was clearly exhausted from the final sprint where I raced 6 little girls through the reptile house in five minutes so we wouldn't miss the bus.)

"Was it Cranberry, that polar bear who just had surgery and we could see the scar where all of his fur was shaved?"


"Was it the rhino with bed sores from laying down twenty hours a day in his old age?"


"Was it the snakes? The baby giraffe? The cookies?"


Honestly, despite her slow recall of zoo-amazingness, I wasn't even bitter since I took care to notice and express thanks that I wasn't pushing a stroller or changing diapers during the visit. The conversation with a tableful of kindergarten girls was actually fun and we only had one hair-related emergency.


"Yes, baby."

"My favorite part of the zoo was just wandering around with you."

Gulp. Sigh. Wince. Flinch. STAB. (Did I leave any out?)

It's one thing for me to know that the only reason I'm went on this field trip was for Lilly.

It's an entirely different thing for her to realize already that what she really loves is spending time together.

Even though we didn't lock arms and do the Wizard of Oz skip through the zoo or hold hands while determining if the boa constrictor could, in fact, eat a 6 year-old, it mattered.

Luckily Lilly had forgiven me for the egg drop fiasco and hadn't taken pajama day too hard.

But I spent some extra time thanking Jesus that I could go to the zoo. I selfishly forgot that I am blessed beyond words to have the most precious gift of all...time. The days and years are flying by faster than ever, and my time is the best gift I can give.

Because these are the golden years.


Dana said...

Sweet story. I can see you with your Mary Poppins
gear on now.

Amy said...