No, That’s Not an Elephant in My Backyard…

On Monday, since I was finally feeling human again after my joyride with Amoxicillin, I was dying to get outside and breathe some fresh air. It was a beautiful day, and so Husband and I decided to take the kids to the zoo. Now, we’re not one of those families who buys a season pass and frequents the zoo a couple times a week. No, my kids aren’t that lucky, even though the zoo is only about 20 minutes away. How sad is it that my kids acted like we were taking them to Disneyworld or something?

“Kids, do you want to go the zoo this afternoon?”
“Yes, really.”
“YEAH!!!!!” Eyes wide open in disbelief and joy.

Boy #1’s reaction was more of suspicion.
“Why?” he asked.
“Because we thought it would be fun!” I said. Are we really THAT BAD?
I believe he thought there was some kind of catch involved. Like we were going to pull into the parking lot and suddenly announce, “Okay, kids. Now we’re going to go shovel all the poop out the of the lion’s den!”

I think I’ve told you before that my poor kids don’t get out much.

So we head to the zoo, but first we have to stop and eat since we don’t even have bread in our house. Of course, nothing can just go smoothly. Boy #2 throws a huge fit because he doesn’t want to eat at ihop; he wants McDonald’s. Since I was still getting over the queasies, the thought of McDonald’s about put me over the edge. Husband and I weren’t entirely thrilled about ihop either, but it was Monday, and kids eat free, and that seals the deal for us! So after a few minutes of “I’m NOT GOING!” “Fine, then we’ll just stay home from the zoo!” “Noooooo!!!!!” “Then quit complaining!” “You’re the meanest mom in the world!” “Thank you!”, Boy #2 finally calmed down and decided not to wait in the car but to go ahead and sit with us at ihop. “Oh, they DO have chicken nuggets!” he said as he looked at the kids’ menu, a smile on his face as if the previous 5-minute-throw-yourself-on-the-floor tantrum had never happened. Grrr…..

After wolfing down our meal (My French toast was fabulous!), we finally made our way to the zoo.

If you’re ever in the Des Moines area, you’ll need to check out the zoo. It’s really nice for a smaller zoo, and it only takes about 2 or 3 hours to get through the whole thing. Here are the boys in the little inside exhibit. They look so innocent, don’t they?

The boys had a blast. They got to touch starfish.

Boy #2 busied himself by reading every informational board for every animal. His job was to tell us where the animal was on the “endangered” spectrum. “Mom, this one’s vulnerable.” “Oh, no, this one’s critically endangered!” It was fun to see him take such a scientific interest in the animals.

We saw a snow leopard. And a beautiful black swan.

Boy #3 LOVED the giraffes. That’s ALL he wanted to see.

But the highlight was the elephant show. Rosie and her son J.P. were visiting from another animal refuge. We packed in to a little tent, plopped ourselves on bleachers (me directly behind this poor grandma with bird poop all over the back of her shirt), and waited for the show to begin. As I listened to Boy #3 ask, “What’s that? Is that the elephant? When it’s gonna start? Is that water real? Is that flower real? Where are the ELEPHANTS?” in his not-so-quiet voice, I entertained myself by watching my own show—the other zoo visitors.

Wow. Many were families a lot like us. But a few stood out from the mainstream crowd. Take, for instance, the woman in black. She had long, tangly, very black hair, which contrasted greatly with her very pale, sickly-looking skin. She wore black sweatpants (it was HOT out too) and a black t-shirt with, I believe, Wile E. Coyote on it and the phrase, “Straight hustla’ ” She looked as if she’d taken one too many hits of the wacky weed, and the rest of her party looked about the same. There didn’t appear to be any children with them, either. I really wanted to know her story, where she came from, how they decided to get up today and go to the zoo. Just didn’t look like your normal zoo-faring gang. It took the sound of an elephant trumpeting and a barely-pubescent zookeeper welcoming us to the show with an obviously memorized speech to tear me away from the Addams Family and direct my attention to the adorable Asian elephants that were about to amaze and delight me.

I had no idea that elephants were so flexible and had such good balance! They’re much more agile and coordinated than I am!

Rosie is also much more artistic than me. Look at her painting this t-shirt! How adorable is that? (If I were a good mom, I would’ve let my kids each purchase one of these elephant-painted t-shirts. “No souvenirs for you!”)

I couldn’t believe how well-trained she was.

As we headed home, Husband said to me, “Do you realize that an elephant is easier to train than our dog?”

Sad, but true.

Elephants are also easier to train than our kids.
You can also use them for transportation, and you’d never have to mow the lawn again.



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