Here is what is interesting to me. My grandkids like to go to the zoo. They like riding the carousel and lunch and the playground and the gift shop and seeing animals, if there is time. This is typical of any and all of our grandchildren. Lilly and Jackson were not exceptions.
In the car on the way to the zoo, I asked, “What animals would you like to see today?” We have a zoo membership, which I love! It frees us to see a portion of the zoo each visit rather than sticking it out until we have seen every last animal. We go early and often.
One of the children wanted to see polar bears. The other wanted to see ducks. Yes, ducks, and of course the temporary dinosaurs exhibit.
Our first stop is always the restrooms. Both children protested that they did not have to use the washroom and they could not possibly make anything come but I still encouraged them, “Please try.” They couldn't go. I was not surprised as I am a SZG (Seasoned Zoo Grandma).
As we went through the turnstile, we received one map per group. I quickly observed that one map will never work. It never does. Our second stop is always the info center to pick up more maps so each child can have his/her own. After studying it for a few minutes and plotting our course, the children asked me to please hold their maps for them. I was expecting that, also.
The first thing that we saw was the carousel. From experience, I knew that the line would lengthen exponentially if we waited until later in the day. A carousel ride is paramount to the zoo experience, so I suggested that we ride right away. During a brief wait, they had time to discuss the weighty decision of what animal to ride and then participated in the foot race to get on the right one.
Following that thrill, we looked at our plan and began moving in the prescribed direction.
Inevitably someone always spies a playground. There are several scattered throughout the zoo. Jackson and Lilly saw one and begged to go and play. Before I was a SZG I used to attempt reason, reminding grandchildren that we have a park a block from our house and another just down the street a bit saying, “We can always play at a park but we don’t get to see the animals very often.” I don’t argue anymore. I just say, “Yes.” The children run to the playground as if it is the best thing and I resign myself to following them around to keep an eye on each one among the other hundred children that also prefer the playground to seeing animals.
Shortly into the playground play, Lilly came in desperate need of a washroom—immediately. We all took off for the closest facility available. Lilly was distraught because she was concerned that she would not get to go back to the playground. I assured her that was not the case. We took a lengthy bathroom break and then returned to the playground. Eventually, I enticed them away saying that it was time for lunch.
Lunch was near the temporary Dinosaur Alive exhibit, so the children asked to dig for bones among the shredded tires following lunch. Finally, finally, both were ready and willing to go and see the dinosaurs on display.
We loved the dinosaur exhibit. It was amazing! Jackson would have read every sign and placard if Lilly had the patience for it.
Jackson was excited to see that Tyrannosaurus Rex bones had been found in Colorado!
Of course, the exit from the dinosaur exhibit was through the dinosaur gift store. The children were so good and they were not begging but had such wistful looks so what was a grandma to do? I told them to each choose a small gift. It took some time but Jackson settled on a dinosaur transformer and Lilly settled on a rock. Yes, a rock. And I must say, she carried her rock around for two solid days.
We lasted for a whole half hour following the dinosaurs. We saw perhaps five real animals including ducks and polar bears and then all three of us were ready to head home. Both kids napped all of the way home.
What a wonderful and successful zoo experience—happy kids, happy grandma!