Indian summer invaded Western New York this week and we took advantage of it by heading to The Buffalo Zoo. The usual cast of characters went on the adventure sans dog, but Uncle and Aunt NJ joined in on the fun.
We waited until the boy woke from his nap to inform the most excited zoo goers where we were venturing to and then we told the kids. Our daughter ran around the house as excited as Mark Foley on Congress’s new page day, except hers was in good clean fun. The boy acted hyper too, but that was because he saw one of his cars on the floor, and little things like that excite him… just like his father.
Our daughter recognized the zoo’s sign when we arrived and told our guests that we were there. The kids liked the elephants and bears but our little girl was a little disappointed that the germ-infested petting zoo wasn’t open.
“Are the animals sleeping, Mommy and Daddy?”
“Some of them are, little one,” I said even though I really didn’t know if they were sleeping or vacationing in Des Moines, but I had to give her an answer.
We usually bring our lunch to the zoo to avoid the over-priced roller dogs and chicken(?) nuggets but we wanted to live life on the edge or we’re just lazy, so we ate there. The counter woman was slower than my mind could comprehend and she forgot to give us our fifty cents change back and just waited next to the already microwaved food much longer than necessary. Maybe she hoped Uncle NJ and I would forget about the two shiny quarters waiting to be transferred to my pocket. I asked her for the change when she got within shouting distance and she gave me a look, and then she proceeded to count out five little dimes and threw them at me (okay, she handed them to me with an unfeeling “sorry.”).
We sat at a pint-sized table across from the “jungle gym” and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch. I thought that it’d be the same bad food that you get at most amusement type destinations, but I was wrong; the hot dogs were juicy, the cheeseburgers were tasty and the fries were hot and crispy.
The kids ate as much as can be expected while staring at the playground so we cleaned everyone up with wet wipes and headed where they wanted to go. This is a great entertainer for the kids who need a break from staring at animals from the other side of a fence or window. Here they can act like the little animals that they are.
Our daughter’s a pro at this place so she ran up into the snake tube without looking back, but my son always stays on the ground floor and plays with the steering wheels and tic-tac-toe type of things. This time was different, he worked his way up the staggered cushioned steps and went to the slide and slid right down. I beamed with delight, the proud dad of a boy without fear. This came back to haunt me a couple minutes later when young Mr. Fearless went back up the steps. This time he skipped the slide and moved on to bigger and better things, the snake tube. This thing can be a parent’s worst nightmare because most adults don’t fit up there and would have a tough time retrieving a child that’s unwilling to come down on their own. We experienced this at a fast-food restaurant’s playground last year with our daughter. It took forever for her to come down after much pleading, threatening and bribing from quite a distance away.
We watched our boy with a combination of horror and delight as he entered into the tunnel behind a group of older kids. Any other kid up there at the time was an older kid so he wanted to do what they were doing. He disappeared from our sight immediately and we hoped for the best. My wife, brother-in-law, and sister-in-law waited by the slide hoping that the boy would come tumbling down soon. Instead, we noticed a bottleneck at the tube entrance and came to the conclusion that something, make that someone, was stuck in there. The sun shined through the plastic cylinder and revealed a 32-inch body unsuccessfully trying to ascend deeper up the tube. We could tell that it wasn’t going to happen. Before we argued over who’d go get him, I knew I wouldn’t fit; my wife found our daughter and gave her a mission.
“Go and help your little brother out of the tube, please,” my wife pleaded.
Before we knew it, my wife and her crew could here a little girl’s voice coming out of the slide.
“This is my brother and I have to bring him to my mommy and daddy.”
Then I heard the same thing on my end and I could see my strong little girl pulling on a leg in the tube. She looked at an older girl and determinedly explained the situation to her. The five-year-old looked at her with a “get a move on” expression. I think she wanted to get in the tube and was sick of waiting. My son was successfully removed from the tube a few seconds later, feet first, of course.
“Good job, little one,” I said.
She smiled at me and went back in the tube. Our son sat there enjoying the moment with a huge grin on his face. I think he knew what he was doing. I hurried up the rope ladder and brought him down by us for good. We didn’t need to go through this a second time. Especially since some of those little kids seemed pretty upset that someone blocked their path to parental freedom.
We were very proud of our three-year-old daughter coming through in the clutch that we promised to get her something at the gift shop on our way out. This is a big thing for her because we’ve only bought something there once or twice in all of the times we’ve been there.
We watched the Macaques for quite a while because they were climbing trees, fences and each other and then we saw the giraffes, which our daughter loves. They were far away from the viewing area this time so it wasn’t as awe-inspiring.
When it was time to leave our daughter joined my wife on a quest to find a souvenir. After much contemplation and mind changing she settled on a stuffed penguin she named Penny. The funny thing is that there aren’t any penguins at this zoo.
Like usual the children did not disappoint us on this family outing. They find ways to make things fun and memorable… I think we’ll keep them.
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