Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Awkward Mom vs. the Zoo part II

We now return you to our fearless foursome, who were last seen enjoying the unexpected peace and quiet of the Penguin House. Of course, Super Toddler can only enjoy so much peace and quiet, so off they go! There is just so much zoo to see!

We exit the penguin house and are momentarily blinded; emerging from the cave-like darkness into a beautifully sunny fall day. We dally along the path, admiring the gorgeous trees and the ghoulish decorations within them. This proves to be a slight mistake because, at this reduced rate of walking, Super Toddler is able to spy the playground. It would have been hidden by a fence, but since we are strolling instead of purposefully walking to our next destination, he was able to catch a glimpse through the gate. He is off before we have time to really notice what is going on, and he is on top of a slide before we have the sense to go after him. I am not sure why there is a playground in the zoo, but there are about 100 kids in here. Super Toddler happily joins their ranks, and we are relegated to a bench for the 10 minutes it takes him to remember that he was the one who wanted to go see the frogs.

It really isn’t so bad, given how lovely the day is. We watch some volunteers design Halloween animal displays; it is rather fascinating how they create elephants, giraffes, and penguins with a little paint and the judicious stacking of pumpkins and gourds. My favorite is the barnyard display where a group of 10 firemen attempt to create realistic looking turkeys. After much discussion, they succeed by using rather fat pumpkins as bodies and upside down gourds as beaks. The effect is surprisingly life-like.

Super Toddler flees the playground with the same urgency that he entered it, and we are left to trail after his sprint toward the amphibian house. As we catch up to him, he is waiting for us just inside the doorway, and I am mentally praising his patience when I realize that it is not his loving parents he is interested in. It is a large mural of a princess holding a frog. Super Toddler is enthralled; he stares at her, pets her dress, blows kisses at the frog, and seems content to remain here for the rest of the day. Awkward Dad entices Super Toddler inside with some winks and whispers. I find out later that he promises Super Toddler more frogs and more princesses just inside these doors. He tells Super Toddler that these princesses will most likely be in frog form, after having kissed the frogs, and that it will be their little secret. I assume that is why Super Toddler spends most of his time in the amphibian house blowing kisses at the frogs. He actually kissed them through the glass for awhile, before the keeper of the amphibians put a stop to that. This gives me pause; exactly how poisonous are some of these frogs?

We leave the amphibian house for the reptile house, and I thought it was hot in amphibian house. I am convinced we are in the Sahara. Jackets go flying off; more would come off, but I don’t feel like flashing the snakes today. What on earth are skinks? These little wonders (or the most diverse group of lizards, thank you, Wikipedia) are by far the cutest reptiles I have ever seen. They have no neck and tiny arms and kinda resemble a favorite uncle of mine. We enjoy watching them for quite awhile. Then, we admire a huge alligator and are confused by his sign. Apparently, people need to be reminded not to toss coins into the habitats with water. Now, I am no woman of the world, but I don’t think I have ever encountered a wishing well with an alligator in it. And if I did, I think I would seriously start to question that well’s wishing status.

Most of the snakes seem to be feigning sleep, curled up in the very back of their enclosures, camouflaged by sticks and leaves, and yet, their eyes seem to dart here and there like coffee fiends. I soon realize the reason. Well, the reason other than snakes sleep with their eyes open. The reptile house is awash with children; children who seem to find no greater pleasure than tapping on the glass to rouse the reptiles, despite numerous signs informing them not to. I notice that Super Toddler has spied a live one, a little green snake that is merrily dancing near the glass in his enclosure. Super Toddler raises his fingers to the glass, and I stride over to him, all ready with my lecture. We don’t do what everyone else is doing; you won’t jump off a bridge, just because your friends were, peer pressure, blah, blah. A lifetime of parental wisdom is whirling in my head, just waiting to be passed onto the next generation; in order for that generation to roll their collective eyes and promptly continue tapping the glass. Anyway, I never get the chance. Super Toddler stops well short of a tap and proceeds to “pet” the snake. He starts a conversation with this little green fellow, apparently they are old friends. Super Toddler is talking a lot about Robin Hood and a princess fox, so I am imagining that this snake is either a distant relative of, or the man himself, Sir Hiss. And Super Toddler’s Disney fixation saves the day, yet again.

Super Toddler wants to see bears. Awkward Dad wants to see lions. Super Baby wants to see anything; apparently his stroller has been facing a wall for ten minutes now. We are off! We exit the reptile house, with no real plan. I am not sure where the map is, so we just follow the path with the most people. It serves us well and we land near some rhinos. They are awfully close to the fence, which delights the boys (Awkward Dad included) and makes me wonder just how one rhino-proofs a fence. Awkward Dad is taking numerous pictures of the rhinos; these will join the hundreds of zoo photos at home. You know the ones; the ones with no date on them and no people in them so you have no idea what year they are from or even if they are your childhood zoo photos or your children’s childhood zoo photos. Super Toddler has lost interest in the rhinos and is stalking Spiderman down the path toward the apes. Apparently, Halloween came early for this little boy and his brother, who is decked out in a complete doctor costume (or he is a doctor and I am seriously getting old). I reach Super Toddler, Spiderman, and Doogie Howser to find them engaged in a leaf battle of monumental proportions. Super Baby needs to eat anyway, so I sit on a bench and call for Awkward Dad to deal with this one. He heeds the call and immediately joins the leaf throwing. Sigh, we could be here awhile.

We’ll leave our adventurers to their leaves for the moment and heed a different call altogether. It seems Super Baby’s nap is at an end. Awkward Dad has returned to work and is on call tonight, but perhaps he can be cajoled into writing some of the conclusion of Awkward Mom vs. the Zoo! Until then, farewell, dear readers!

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