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Lowered Expectations

Whenever I’ve talked to people about going with out or taking a vacation with a baby, I always hear the same thing. “You just have to lower your expectations.”

Today was my first forray into this new world. At about 10:30 today, I decided that once Simon woke up from his morning nap, we were going to the zoo. There’s a baby elephant there, and I wanted to see him while he still looked like a baby.

Simon woke up at around 10:45, and we were out the door by 11:00. So far so good. The baby is only on display from 10:00 a.m. to noon and 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., so I had no time to lose. By 11:20 I was a zoo member, and by 11:30 I was standing in front of a six-week old unnamed elephant.

Cute! And when I say “cute”, I mean super-duper, amazing, heart-breakingly, would-it-fit-in-my-car? cute. I didn’t get to see him for long, but he put on a good show for me while I was there, including attempting to throw dirt on his back and missing and nursing from his mommy.

Speaking of nursing, by noon the baby went off display and I had to go nurse Simon. By 12:15 or so Simon was full, but I was starving. I have to say, salad was not a great choice, as it was very hard to cut up all the huge produce and eat it with one hand while I bounced Simon on my knee and otherwise tried to keep him happy with the other. By 12:45 or so, I had done the best I could and Simon was getting restless.

Off to the gorillas! No dice. Tons of kids there making tons of noise was too much for Simon to handle.

Off to the Siberian tiger! No dice. The tiger was best visible from a platform you reach by stairs. I had Simon in the Mei Tai, but I still couldn’t abandon the stroller.

Off to the polar bears! Nope, Simon was restless and wanted some time to stretch his legs. So out comes the outdoor blanket, and Simon and I enjoy some quality time sitting in the grass, playing with a rattle, and watching people go by.

Off to the polar bears! I got to see a single, rather mangy looking polar bear for about five minutes before Simon began protesting again in his stroller.

Off to the ____! And he’s done. By now, Simon is sufficiently unhappy that it’s clear to me he’s done with the stroller, done with the Mei Tai, done with wearing a hat, and pretty much done with the whole thing.

To the exit! After a few wrong turns, I find my way to the parking lot and our car by 1:30 p.m. By now, Simon has worked through his fussy period and is getting a head start on his afternoon nap. I seriously consider re-entering the zoo at this point, but it begins to rain before I can get the car-seat out of the car.

The final tally: Two hours. Rushed lunch. One nursing session. Three animals seen in any detail. But you know what? I got out of the house, I enjoyed a good walk, and the baby elephant was super-duper heart-breakingly cute.

Success! How’s that for a lowered expectations?

Footnote: A funny thing happened at the zoo. During my failed attempt to see the gorillas, I walked through a set piece designed to look like a traditional African market. The walls of this area are decorated with pictures of men and women in traditional garb, including at least one image of a woman carrying her baby in a long piece of cloth tied across her torso. Before I left the market, I heard a woman in the room say to her child, “Look honey, she’s got her baby in a carrier just like the mommy in the picture.” It took a minute, but I realized that the woman was talking about me, that I was the only person at the zoo with her baby “strapped on”, and that I was something of a walking exhibit myself.

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