A post by Indiana . . .
Every morning, without fail:
INDIANA: Hey, kids, what do you want to do today?
KIDS: Let's go to the zoo!
It's not that I'm a pushover. It's more so that I'm one of those moms who just cannot stay home all day. It's one of the burdens of being an extreme extrovert. I just need to be around a lot of people and have at least a one conversation with someone in double digits... even if it's just, "Excuse me, ma'am, you're stroller is blocking the way." And "I'm so sorry!" And besides, you can only stroll Target X times a week before your kids start hating it and employees start to recognize you and look at you with pity in their eyes. So, yeah, in the nine months we've lived here, I've done the zoo a lot... not as much as Target, but close.
On my third visit to Zoo Atlanta, I went ahead and bought a family annual pass. This way we can pop in, do the things on our list, and then head back home for naps. With the family pass, I don't feel like I have to stay alllll day to get my money's worth. Plus I can invite friends to join us since it works for two adults and four kids ages three and up (Caroline and Lu still get in for free!).
On impromptu zoo days, during breakfast, the kids list out the animals they want to see. I use a tiny piece of paper so the list doesn't get too long and ridiculous. They haven't caught on to this trick, yet. Mothers, feel free to implement this scheme yourself.
JUDE: We want to see the penguins and the alligators and the zebras and the monkeys and the ducks and the armadillos and the--
INDIANA: Oops. Sorry, bud, there's only room on this piece of paper for six things, so I guess that's it.
Jude- Explorer costume: Melissa & Doug | Shoes- c/o Livie & Luca
Caroline- Headband- June & January | Zoo shirt: Thrifted | Shoes- c/o Livie & Luca
Lucy- Sun hat: Target (similar) | Stroller: Maclaren Volo | Bag: c/o Lily Jade
Upon arrival we get a zoo map and try to plot out everything on the list while we feed the flamingos at the entrance. Just for fun, really, because I do allow them to see other things that are not on the list. I don't know if they need map skills in this GPS era of modern life, but I do what I can to support old school stuff like paper maps.
Lately, their favorite exhibit is the reptile area. This is, incidentally, my least favorite part of the zoo, but it's indoors and shady so I'm trying really hard to get over my freaked- outness- about- snakes- moving- with- no- legs thing because Atlanta in the summer may as well be on the equator, it's so dang hot, so I will relish all the kid-friendly indoor things I can... even if it's an entire building full of snakes.
CHRIS: I don't understand why you hate snakes so much.
INDIANA: 1. Woman's contention with snakes has been biblically mandated since the beginning of humankind on earth, 2. Two words: Levi Fisher, and 3. whenever I go to a snake exhibit at a zoo, it's always anxiety inducing.
C: How so?
I: Because there's always some glass exhibit that's empty. You look in there and maybe there's supposed to be a snake, but it's vacant. You don't know if it's empty on purpose, or if the snake is in back with the vet, or if the snake escaped.
C: That does not happen.*
I: It does! I don't know why they don't put a little sign in the empty snake enclosures that say, "Don't worry. This is empty on purpose." That would instantly put me at ease.
My kids do not share this concern of mine. At all. *Shudder*
Caroline is such a creep that she likes to get right up to the glass and poke the snakes' eye area and giggle, "I got your eye!" I try to hurry them down to the adorable turtle area as quickly as possible.
The elephants are smack dab in the middle of the zoo, so we always get to see these huge, majestic beasts. The kids feel meh about elephants but I really like them, so I make them look at them until my heebie jeebies about the snakes have subsided.
And the very last thing we do is the train ride and /or the merry-go-round. But if and only if no one jumped a fence, threw fruit snacks at an animal, or peed their pants.
Jude is pretty excited that he's tall enough to ride the merry-go-round by himself, but the fact is he's got two little sisters. He will likely never be by himself until he goes off to college.
I don't make my kids do these "put your head in this germ infested face board and smile" things. They do every single one of these (sometime multiple times) on their own volition. And it's not enough for them to just stick their heads in the holes. They chant, "Take a picture of meeeee!" every time. I think I have 200 versions of this on my phone.
Summer is here in full effect so the misters are out at the zoo now, which is great. This was new to them (unlike all the animal exhibits at this point) so this bought me another cool, tempertantrum-free 20 minutes or so. I'm a fan of this fan and will likely visit it again soon sometime. Who knows. It may even make the little list!
We just adore Zoo Atlanta. If you'd like to meet my crew there one day, please do! You can hold my hand during the snake exhibit part.