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Time to take a patience pill!

School was still out at KIP Monday, so I took the day off from work to go on full-time mommy duty. Looking for ways to enjoy the warm and sunny weather, I decided to head to the zoo, figuring that Simon would have a great time running around, being strolled around, playing on the playground, and looking at all the animals.

He had other ideas. The first thing that happened was that once we pulled into the zoo parking lot, Simon knew where he was and began to bawl. Our last trip began the same way, and I’m still not sure what’s going on. My best guess is that earlier this summer the Whitworths took Simon to the zoo, where he had a great time until they got on the zoo train, at which point Simon collapsed into a hysterical fit. I don’t understand why the zoo train scared him or why he’d think of the zoo only in terms of the train later, but it’s the only theory I have.

I wasn’t about to go home without a fight, so I let Simon cry while offering to carry him, push him, or walk alongside him. He chose option #4: Sit on the sidewalk inside the zoo, bang his head once or twice (more about that in my next post), and lift up his arms to me to be taken away.

I waited him out. First he was happy to be carried for a bit. Then he conceded to say hi to a zookeeper and look at the giraffes. His lower lip trembled a bit as we approached the elephants, but after looking at baby Scotty and his mom Micki for a while, Simon was ready to take off and have some fun.

And this is where I learned a little about the world as experienced by a two-year-old. Simon had very little interest in taking in the majesty of nature’s fauna. He was, however, enthralled, by a series of ramps, steps, rope fences, automatic doors, and vending machines. At first I was frustrated by this and tried to push my agenda (see animals!), but then I thought about Wendy Mogel’s opinion’s about time in The Blessing of the Skinned Knee. More about this phenomenal book soon, too, but the gist of the chapter on time is that, in a hurried society, we owe our kids some time lived at their own pace.

With this nugget of wisdom in my mind, I decided to let Simon explore the zoo on his own terms. And here’s what he did:

  • He delighted in running between vending machines, then back out, in an advanced game of peekaboo.
  • He ran inside the right door of the monkey house, through the monkey house, and back out the left door in a spirited game of chase with me.
  • He ran up and down the ramp leading to the gorilla exhibit, pushing his own stroller for much of the way and nearly losing control more than once on the way back down. Once he did lose control of the stroller, at which point he collapsed into a fit of giggles as I struggled to reach it.
  • He learned to duck under a rope fence to stand between bamboo trees.
  • He approached and then backed away from the automatic doors leading to the inside part of the gorilla exhibit, marveling and saying “wow!” out loud as they opened and closed before him.
  • He managed to wave and say “hi” to one of the gorillas, in the single animal-focused part of his self-guided tour.

After all these adventures*, we made it to the playground, at which point Simon was too tired to do anything other than swing for a while before we headed home for lunch and a nap. So did we have a good time? Yes, we did. Did we have the good time I had planned to have? No, not at all. But I suppose that’s because you can’t expect a 38-year-old and a nearly 2-year-old to see the world the same way or enjoy the same things. And that’s OK. Simon had a great time, and I learned a little lesson on patience.

* For anyone thinking, “Boy, I’m glad I wasn’t there while this kid terrorized the zoo,” let me reassure you that (1) the zoo was very nearly empty Monday; (2) I kept a very close eye on him and he never once stepped on a plant, blocked someone or anyone’s path, or otherwise got in the way.

One Response to “Going to the Zoo…at (Almost) Two”

  1. Amanda says:

    LOL. It keeps going. When Allison was four, all we ever saw of the Columbus Zoo (besides Jack Hanna, who is really handsome in real life) was the carousel. I think my bro probably spent $600 in the toddler years on carousel rides. We did finally get to see the aquarium once, and any other animals we happened to notice on the WAY to the carousel. But we still had lots of fun, which, as you pointed out, is the point anyway. Glad to know your power is back on, I was missing my sort-of-daily Simon fix.

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