Monday, October 6, 2008

A Day at the Zoo

Something happens when you have four kids who are spaced out over seven years.

One day you wake up and realize family outings are getting increasingly difficult. Specifically, it's a challenge to please everybody. You have to catch Blake, now creeping up on 12, in a good mood or bribe him with food or treats of some kind. Catch him on a bad day and he'll moan and groan the whole trip.

And, as I'm sure is the case in most families, Child #2 tends to grow up a little faster than Child #1. Child # 1 might have enjoyed things like the zoo until age 8, 9, or 10. But Child #2, seeing that his older sibling objects, must mimic that sentiment. Such is the case in our household.

Here's Blake earlier this year on the carousel at the zoo. Clearly, he's thrilled.

So, I've given up taking Blake and Nick to the zoo.

Having four kids, one of whom is entering pre-pubescence and another who so desperately wants to follow him there, also makes you realize how quickly the innocence and wonderment of childhood zooms right past you. And that's what's kicking me in the pants to make sure I appreciate and enjoy the little things, like taking Zach and Allie to the zoo and watching their excitement in petting the goats, feeding the giraffes ... using the public bathroom.

A couple weeks ago when my parents were here we took a trip out to an area wildlife zoo. It was a little toasty, but the place was deserted. We had it all to ourselves.

I watch and wonder how much longer my Zach and Allie will excitedly feed quarter after quarter into the rundown bubblegum machine that spits out stinky animal food into their little hands so they can dispense it to the ducks and fish and ostriches and whatever other animal is lucky enough to be in their path.

How much longer they will run from one exhibit to the next, squealing, "Look at him, Mommy. He's cuuute!"

How much longer until my two youngest don't want to go to the zoo anymore?

I'll push it out of mind. I can't think about that now ... we're going to the park (OK ... maybe not at this moment ... but it sounded like a good way to end it) :).

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