Friday, August 12, 2011

Skip, Skip, Skip to the Zoo

Several weeks ago I gathered my girls and told them that one of my aunts, whom they don't remember meeting three years ago, had just had major surgery for cancer. I explained to them that one of the best gifts children have is the ability to cheer others up and encourage them. The girls worked hard that afternoon on "Get Well Soon" cards to send to my aunt. A week later my aunt sent back a note thanking the girls for the cards and saying that they now hung on her refrigerator. This made the girls feel very proud, and was all the thanks they needed, but my aunt also included a sum of money to be used to treat them.

We talked over our options for using this gift: new craft supplies, new books to read, expensive food treats, or going somewhere we don't normally have the money to go. It was quickly decided that all the kids would like to use the money for admission to the zoo.  All we needed was a cool day on one of Matt's days off of work. Today met those conditions beautifully.

Everyone rushed through our morning routine, eager to greet this exciting day. They bounced with excitement in their car seats, and ran and shouted up to the admissions gate. The first exhibit we came to housed an enormous tiger, pacing round and round his confines. He would walk up to the window where we stood, stare us in the eyes, just inches from our faces, and then walk 'round again. On his last trip around before we moved on he stopped in front of Toby and yawned, stretching his gigantic mouth open enough to swallow Toby in two bites. Matt and I were as excited as the kids at this grand opening to our adventure, and I forgot to get my camera out.

Next door was a white tiger, lazily sleeping in the sun. The only show we got from this one was watching him roll to his back and snooze belly-up in the grass.

Soon we met the camels, visited a koi pond, and spotted two red pandas napping in a pine tree. They playful river otters amused us for nearly half-an-hour, and the bobcat growling as it ate its mice was an impressive sight. "There's Aslan!" Naomi announced as we passed the male lions, lying on the rocks.

A cage full of skittering little monkeys apparently inspired Toby, as he scaled the chain-link fence around their exhibit. When the girls saw me laugh and grab the camera, they, of course, had to climb too. We admired wallabies, silently watched a giant alligator sniff a dead rabbit, and laughed at the tiny tortoise who was turned on its back and left to wiggle by his ticked-off tank-mate. And when our eyes and our hearts were full of animals we headed to the enormous playground just outside the gates.

They climbed. They slid. They swung, and jumped, and laughed. They found a merry-go-round, something I haven't seen at a park in years, and went around and around again. And when the day was over Naomi summed up with, "Well...that sure was worth it!" It sure was. Besides, Matt and I had no trouble getting the kids to bed tonight. A perfect ending for a perfect day.

No comments:

Post a Comment