My wonderful friends Katie and Meghan have started to be my saviors. We have met up a few times to spend the day together. They are both stay at home moms several days a week and have two kids and we all know that getting together with another adult during the day is so helpful for a parent's sanity. Yesterday we decided that we would all go to the zoo together and a co-worker of theirs would join us too. In total there would be four adults and eight children. How fun, right?
Well, remember, fun is a relative term. More fun than a colonoscopy? Yes. More fun that watching a "Real Wives of Some Rich City" marathon? It's a close call.
8:30am The zoo opens at 10:00 a.m. so I planned to leave at 9:15. I decide to start getting the boys ready at 8:30 a.m. because 45 minutes should be enough time, right?
8:55am The boys still aren't dressed. They have been in various states of dress and undress over the last 25 minutes. The promise of " a snack in the car" is lost on them because their tiny brains tune out after hearing the word "snack" and they miss that it will be eaten in the car.
8:57am I pack a bag full of snacks, diapers, water bottles, wipes, etc. while being attacked from the hips down and hearing the word "snack" screamed repeatedly.
9:02am The boys finally understand that screaming will not get them their snacks and they have to get dressed and get into the car before eating the most amazing thing on earth that must be eaten right away: Angry Bird graham crackers for Aaron and some vitamin fortified pizza flavored crackers for Jeff. Aaron still doesn't understand that we have gone from the never-ending winter to summer and that he shouldn't be wearing long sleeves and long pants every day. He wears a sweater. I don't mind because it's supposed to be in the high 50s today. (Note: it was 81. Thanks, weather-predicting people.)
9:20am I finally get out of the house and to the car. Jeff insists on doing everything himself. He likes to open the car door, climb into his seat, buckle himself in and then try to close the door. He doesn't understand that he can only get himself into the seat and maybe, on a good day, get one of his three buckles snapped together. If I do any of these activities for him he throws a fit until I let him try. After 10 seconds of trying he says "Daddy do it." The buckles, however, he insists on doing. It's amazing how many ways I can distract a two year old and fool him into thinking he did it.
9:35am We're on our way.
10:15am I park, get the kids into a stroller and meet Katie. We walk around trying to kill some time waiting for the other two moms to show up.
10:30am The boys get out of their strollers to go on the carousel. Jeff insists he wants a to ride on a bear. There are no bears. Luckily he agrees to ride on a panda bear. (In his defense, it IS a kind of bear but probably not what he meant when he said he wanted a bear.) This is one of those rare moments that logic and reason pops into a 2 year old's brain.
10:35am The ride is done and we start strolling around. Meghan and the other mom show up. We agree to go to some small mammal house.
10:40am I take the boys out of the stroller. Aaron runs across the grass and behind a fence. Jeff stays by the stroller to do the buckles because G-d forbid the stroller seat belt stay unbuckled when he gets out. Apparently the buckle holds the universe together. I run around the fence to grab Aaron and pray Jeff stays put. I get Aaron to come back around and he runs to the mammal house. I trick Jeff into thinking he did the buckles on his own while I actually help so I can follow Aaron and not lose him. I have now lost all the other parents.
10:40am-11:00am The mammal house is dark and crowded. I'm sweating. We can't see any of the sleeping animals hiding behind rocks and tree branches. I spend the whole time worrying if the kids will get lost and can't enjoy the exhibits at all. Katie, the amazing mom, finds me and helps lift up Aaron to look for animals while still watching her own two kids. I hold Jeff who has now refused to walk. Twenty long minutes later, after seeing a couple foxes sleeping and some rats scurrying in a cage, we're out. Aaron gets back in the stroller and Jeff insists on "helping" by pushing the stroller.
11:00am We make it to the Family Petting Zoo which I think will be great. I am wrong. It's a big room with a bunch of little rooms off to the sides...a.k.a. places for children to hide. My friend volunteers there and even though I am there for about 30 minutes I talk to her for about four minutes. The rest of the time I run around hoping that I can find the boy who ran off somewhere and return to find the other boy in the same spot where I had left him.
11:35am Katie leaves the Family Zoo to eat lunch. I entice my boys with the idea of yogurt and I'm unsuccessful for 20 minutes.
11:55am We leave the Family Zoo building and I'm excited to get to eat lunch with Katie and get to talk to her while sitting. Instead, we get distracted by the Dirt Playground the zoo has in their children's area. I'm not sure what it's really called, but it's a big circle of dirt and rocks and twigs with a few, old, dirty shovels and buckets that I think are supposed to pass for toys. My kids spend 20 minutes playing with dirt. At least they missed the 10 pound tree branches the five year old girls were playing with. I hear shrieks like, "Honey...I don't think we need to try balance that dirty tree stump on your sister's head" from their parents. Who designed this place? Who thinks dirt and heavy tree limbs belong in a children's area?
12:15pm My kids, now dirty and sweaty, agree to go eat lunch. I can't find Katie but I do find an area with tables, a playground and 50 geese. The playground was packed with kids. My boys wanted to play but I had visions of losing them in the sea of children and the older kids pushing and shoving them to get to the ever so popular plastic slide. So we sit at a table and I give them food while angry geese circle around us looking for dropped goldfish. We eat lunch as I encourage my boys not to chase the geese. Aaron gets close to one goose who hisses at him. That is the end of goose chasing.
12:40pm The boys don't want to get in the stroller to go to the car. I have to bring out my super secret weapon by promising them a special zoo snack. Luckily I have some chewy fruit snacks in the car. I tel them we get these treats at the zoo.
12:50pm I get the boys to the car and we go through the whole process of Jeff wanting to do everything for himself again. (It's afternoon so I'm more awake and my wits are sharper. I get him in more quickly than the morning. After about 10 a.m. a two year old's wits are no match for mine. Before 10:00 a.m. it's usually a draw.) After a few minutes I get them in and give them their snacks. They are happy and keep repeating "special zoo snack."
12:57pm The boys ask for water, tell me they're done with their snack, want a different color water bottle, etc. I drive as I give and receive water bottles and snack packages for a few minutes. I yell at them that I'm driving and I can't help them any more. They are stuck with whatever color bottle they currently have and they must open and close the bottles themselves.
1:04pm After whining for a few minutes Jeff and Aaron fall asleep.
1:05pm-2:10pm I get home about 1:30 p.m. but drive around for the next 40 minutes because no one wants to incur the wrath of a toddler who was woken up from a 20 minute nap. I eat some disgusting fast food in the car finally park. The boys wake up a few minutes later and we have survived the zoo.
8:30pm I talk with my friend, Kristine, about getting together next week. We decide to go to (wait for it...) the zoo! I guess I'll need to get more special zoo snacks.