Going to the Zoo · 2 June 2018

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Going to the zoo is quite the adventure. Even when you take a grownup kid.

My wife and I went to the Woodland Park Zoo last weekend with our middle son. It was a great time. We walked around most of the exhibits and saw nearly everything. We even got to park without much hassle. The weather cooperated by being warm and sunny. All in all, it was a wonderful day. If not a bit surreal.

One of the strange things was seeing all the people there with little kids. We wondered how we did it way back when. Sure, we had a shepherd (our oldest son) to help with the younger two boys. But we would still have been going this way and that way, that way and this way. We would have had to wash faces and hands. We would have had to find restrooms when we were the farthest away we could be. We would have had to go back to see the giraffes. Again. Sure., we had fun way back when, but you forget all the little things that go with taking little ones anywhere.

One of the things you forget but love to hear is the sound of little voices. There is always wonder in them. And there is that lilt in the voice of toddlers that you never forget. When you hear the wonder and that lilt in other kids, you remember it in your own. And you miss it.

Besides the wonder in the little voices, there is something else we missed when we went to the zoo. Or at least it was something we thought about. We missed the stroller. Not only did we carry the littlest one in the stroller (and anybody else who wanted to ride and could get away with it), we carried everything else. Including the kitchen sink. Or so it seemed. We had wipes and snacks and diapers and extra clothes and just about anything else you could think of.

Diapers are one thing I definitely do not miss. But I do not remember taking the kids to the zoo when they were diaper age anyway. We probably did, but I do not remember. I suppose some things are best forgotten. At any rate, it was always nice to have the stroller. Not only to carry all the stuff, but to carry the little ones or even the big one when they were a bit tired. Or asleep.

This trip, we did not need to have all that stuff (so we did not need the stroller). Yes, we each carried our own backpacks, but we did not need the kitchen sink anymore. Or diapers.

Speaking of being the pack mule. (I know I never said anything about it this time, but I know I wrote about it sometime.) I was fortunate to only need to carry my own stuff to the zoo this time. I had water and extra clothes. And everybody’s food. In the old days, I had to carry everybody’s stuff. (Thus the pack mule reference.) Which is why it was nice to have the stroller. Now, I just carry my own stuff and the food. And since I had my backpack with a hydration system, I had plenty of water. In fact, I just kept sucking it down the whole time we were there. Which was why we still had to look for restrooms at the most inconvenient times. Even though we did not have any toddlers with us.

When all is said and done, going to the zoo is not really about the lions and tigers and bears (oh my). It is really about being together and having a good time. We enjoyed seeing the lions and tigers and bears (oh my), but we really just enjoyed being with each other. Being with each other looking at the lions and tigers and bears (oh my), and birds and plants and rocks and things. Watching people. Talking and reminiscing and wondering.

It really is strange to watch people and wonder how we took three kids to the zoo without going a bit crazy. But we had a great time being there with just one of our nearly adult sons. When it comes right down to it, going to the zoo is a great adventure. At any age.

© 2018 Michael T. Miyoshi

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