Two weeks straight, I pulled the magnet letter Z off the fridge. I held it up and exclaimed “Z is for Zoo! We are going to the zoo!” Yea, we went to the zoo. I learned a lot on this family outing. This trip started last year as I had a heated debate with my husband about wanting to take the baby to the Halloween zoo event. This year, there was no debate. We booked the hotel room and woke up early on a Saturday morning. After eating breakfast, we returned to the hotel and I dressed the terrific toddler in his Halloween attire. The pumpkin onesie had to be covered with overalls because it was colder than anticipated.
Pulling into the parking lot, we are engulfed in a mini-van ocean. Kids, strollers, stressed out mothers, and wagons carrying children in full costume. I was not prepared. We were unprepared because we couldn’t fit a pack-n-play and a stroller in a Mini Cooper; pack-n-play won out. We immediately went to rent a stroller. While Daddy paid the stroller rental, I covered the pumpkin outfit with a gray jacket. It was cold. No one could see his costume, but at least we could try to fight off the wind coming into his ears.
Walking around we looked for animals. Guess what, they were cold too. They were huddled in their packs surrounded by hay and leaves. They too were seeking warmth against the bitter air. I looked at other mothers.
How do you ladies pull off these matching outfits complete with scarves, riding boots, and the perfect not frizzy pony tail? I like to tell myself your hair is fake. It makes me feel better. I really like the added touch of Dolce & Gabbana sunglasses on a gray overcast day. You guys are prepared. I was not. I had wind-blown hair and my husband’s too large Northface jacket along with tight hipster pants under black riding boots. Pants which had to be yanked up every five minutes because the riding boots were pulling them down and no one wants to see Mommy’s crack.
Looking down at my son, I see a little red nosed boy. A little boy stuck at stroller level who can’t see any animals. I get him up and out, taking him to watch the camels. We take his first train ride ever. He seemed frightened and intrigued at both the same time. He gripped my fingers tightly for the entire 4 minute train ride.
Walking around, we kept trying to find animals.
Signs say it is too cold for the giraffes and some weird named monkeys. All we really cared about was the elephant. Grandpa can do this trick where he waves his arm up in the air and makes the perfect elephant sound. No one else can replicate this feat. Terrific Toddler knows what an elephant looks like along with the sounds they make. If you say ‘elephant’ to him, he waves his arm in the air just like his grandpa does.
We walked to where the elephant was kept. First, we passed a rhino making a loud BOOM BOOM BOOM noise. He was beating his horn against the door because he too was freaking cold. He wanted inside. Then in the distance, we saw the elephant. Picking up our pace we scurried towards the magnificent creature. We saw his ass. The elephant, much like the rhino except the elephant had patience, is waiting at his door to be let in. He was also freaking cold.
We stared at the elephant’s ass for a bit. Then we decided to go into the gift shop to get warmed up. Here, I encountered a strange lady who made my day. She had a son and a daughter. She asked me if boys could wear ear muffs? Not Vince Vaughn “Old School” earmuffs but real ear muffs, furry ones. This strange lady asked me for parenting advice. I looked around and she was really talking to me. I answered her “sure, it keeps the wind out of their ears.” Joyously I celebrate the feeling. I am part of the parent club finally. This was short lived.
After leaving the gift shop, I noticed the familiar warmth. I am finally aware that if you hold a boy long enough, twelve hour diapers don’t mean twelve hours. The pressure against your body and possibly the angle will cause him to leak. He leaked. I take him to the changing table. He soaked through his Halloween onesie and his overalls. I am frantically digging through the diaper bag. I packed a change of clothes. I know I did. I learned this lesson a long time ago. ALWAYS HAVE A CHANGE OF CLOTHES. They are not in the bag. I give up. I dress him hurriedly, hoping no one noticed I put the wet clothes back on him. Maybe the extra clothes are in the car. I rush out to a waiting Daddy, to the man I love.
“I can’t find his change of clothes. He’s soaked through,” I say as a full blown panic attack is nearing.
“I took them out. It was a short sleeved shirt. I didn’t think we would need them.”
Tony Soprano is creeping into my throat. The Misfit enraged Mama is screaming on the inside, How about fucking pants? Did you consider he may need fucking pants because he currently pees in his pants? I oughta whack you upside the head. I got a soaked little boy in cold air. How about the fucking pants?!
My own mother’s words took over, pick your battles. You are standing right smack dab in the middle of the zoo entrance. We made it this far.
“We can go buy him new clothes or go home. I am ready to go. He’s cold. I am cold. I want to go home,” tears ran down my cheeks.
I am not one of those ladies in matching outfits complete with scarves and perfect blonde not frizzy pony tails. I am not prepared. But I am in the club. Thank you, kind strange lady in the gift shop.