Back when I was still a working mother I had to take the occasional day off work when our babysitter for the day canceled. We were lucky enough to have family members on babysitting duty, but occasionally someone would be ill and our back ups were busy. I had to take a day off here or there when our childcare fell through, and the day I most frequently had to take was a Wednesday. Coincidentally, that is the same day my bestie Angela works from home. Which means, of course, ROAD TRIP!
(A really small road trip, but still.)
This particular day we drove to a local fruit stand that also has animals and a large park-like area. It was too early in the season for most of the animals to be out, but the place had a lot of chickens, so I snapped about 500 photos of Isobel chasing them.
Someday, Future Isobel is going to turn to me and ask, “Mom, what was I like when I was a toddler?”
And I’m going to have to say, “Well, you loved to chase chickens.” And I’ll have millions of pictures to prove it.
This meant of course she was a bad influence on Kingston, who decided to get in on this chicken-chasing game. The poor chickens were like, “Another one? Noooooooo!”
Aside from the chicken and a lone peacock (that the children also terrorized! with love!) the pens had two bored pigs and a goat that stood up when Isobel when over to him. I’m pretty sure he wanted to sell her a used car or talk to her about his cloven lord. I named him Mr. Tumnus.
After the kids decided they were done with animal pestering, we went inside the fruit stand itself to pick up some produce and munch on pumpkin rolls and apple strudel. The pumpkin roll was so killer I’m drooling now just thinking about it. It was worth all the chicken laps I had to run to get it.
They had a fake train for the kids to climb on that had a wasp on it. THOSE GODDAMN WASPS. Needless to say, it was murdered.
Yeah, Ignore Isobel’s crazy hair, please. She gets that from me.
I swear I brush it several times a day but it quickly returns to its natural state of looking like a haystack that fell into her eyes. If I ever had a concern about her being switched at birth I could just look at that hairline and be convinced she’s my daughter. I can’t wait for her pesky bangs to grow out so she’ll look less ragamuffin-y.
Since we had promised the kids animals and the fruit stand was kind of a disappointment, we drove the kids 30 miles south to a little zoo we knew about. The whole entire drive Isobel kept asking me, “Mama, see the animals? The animals?!” as if she was beginning to think I had lied and made up the whole concept of animals and that really we were driving 45 minutes to see another fake wooden train.
Eventually we arrived and I was so pleasantly surprised to see how lush and lovely the small zoo was. When I was a kid it was pretty run down and ghetto and the poor animals looked perpetually hot. I had heard it had been renovated but I didn’t realize it would be so dramatic. The animals all looked great.
This particular enclosure had all kinds of exotic deer and antelope, but Isobel and Kingston were enthralled by… the turkey. It’s hard for me to keep in mind that to a child every animal is exotic. A wrinkly old turkey is just as exotic as an antelope, a chicken is as amazing as a peacock, and a pig is as mind-blowing as a chupacabra. (I’m pretty sure the zoo had a chupacabra. It was probably sleeping. They’re always sleeping. Lazy goatsuckers!)
I was really happy to see the mountain lion walking around. Most of the time the big cats in any zoo are sleeping, which is pretty much what their tinier, domestic versions do at my house. Isobel was not impressed by the mountain lion. I was pointing and exclaiming with glee like a Mountain Lion Fangirl and she was trying to look casual like, “I don’t know who this lady is. She’s just pushing me around in my stroller. It’s so hard to find good help these days.”
Both kids loved the monkeys, and Isobel was particularly fond of tattling on them. “Mom! Monkey is climbing!” or “No throwing, monkeys!” Kingston saw them immediately as potential climbing tutors.
We also saw a bear chilling in a hammock, and it was obvious that he was way cooler than any other animal in the zoo plus all zoo visitors. Angela immediately grabbed her phone to take a photo because she is some sort of Bear Fangirl.
Isobel told me the bear was cute, but we’re still working on the meaning of the word “cute” with her. So far the only other things she said were cute include: a garlic press at Target, a rock found in the middle of the street, a dirty sock from the hamper, and myself. She probably thinks cute means “boring.”
Kingston was kept busy repeatedly testing the fence for weaknesses. He’d make a wonderful velociraptor.
This raccoon looked exactly like Zorro in size and shape and body structure. He just needs to be orange and I’d have a hard time telling him apart from my cat. I guess there’s a reason they are called Maine Coons.
The best part about feeding these goats pellets is that the pellets were just the appetizer. The main dish was actually the paper cup which they stole from my daughter’s hand and then fought for and ate.
Angela had to hold K back because those goats weren’t sated by that cup of pellets.They looked at Kingston with hunger in their eyes.
See that cracker in Isobel’s hand? Kingston is totally feeding his to the goats. I could totally see a photo like this on the front cover of our local paper. Headline would read: “CHILD FEEDS CRACKER TO BRAWLING GOATS WHILE GIRL LOOKS ON IN HORROR.”
Angela is swooping in to prevent them from gobbling him whole.
The undisputed highlight of the trip for the kids was this goat. Right as I was trying to get a feel-good twitter photo of Isobel next to some zoo animals it urinated everywhere, much to Isobel’s complete fascination. K toddled over, completely transfixed, and while the goat continued on to Act II of his performance. The captive audience watched as the goat pooped in front of them at eye-level.
We also walked by an exhibit that housed a fountain with two pigs making out. NBD.
Before we left I wanted to get the prerequisite cheesy photo of the two of them on the lion bench, smiling and looking all happy. Here’s Isobel, looking at me but not smiling, and Kingston, smiling but not looking at me.
Here’s Isobel, smiling but not looking at me, and Kingston trying to break free of photo time and climb up the lion’s head.
And finally, attempt number three. Isobel has moved on to Cheese Face and Kingston is smiling at some indiscernible spot on the ground.
I did get this adorable shot of Kingston, though.
Before we left they had fun in the little park area away from the animals. Angela and I realized this was the Children Enclosure Area. I’m not sure if we were supposed to feed those animals, but we totally did. We hit up the gift store before leaving to support the zoo and I bought a plastic pig that makes oinking noises when you push a button on its belly. While I paid for the pig Angela tried to rally the troops. Isobel was playing with a game they had set up on a low table and when Angela tried to usher her out the door Isobel sternly replied, “I’M WORKING.”
I know, kid. I didn’t want to leave, either.
Later that day, when I asked Isobel if she had fun at the zoo she said to me, voice full of awe, “Mama, goat go poo poo.” Of all the amazing things we saw that day, and all the fun we had with our friends, this single event stood out as the most pertinent and amazing.
Months later, and still to this day, she’ll occasionally come up to me and say, “Mama, goat go poo poo.”