GAYS MILLS - We embarked this weekend on yet another summer time family ritual. The Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. My aunt and young cousin Romeo joined us for the adventure, which started with a quick pit stop at Peck’s Market. For Thatcher, the thrill of baby goats sucking on his finger and throwing corn at a mountain of bunny rabbits may have been enough, but we continued onward to the big zoo!
We have read a few books that involve zoos, but I’m not really sure he actually had a concept of what one was until we arrived. However, the day before when we were talking about going he came up with his own version of Old Mac Donald Had A Farm, in honor of the trip: “Mac Donald farmmmm LION! Bite here bite here Ei-Ei-Ohhhh!” I tried to redirect him and say a lion would hopefully say “roar, roar here and a roar, roar there,” but the spirited toddler insisted on “a bite, bite here and a bite, bite there.” Luckily for Old Mac Donald and all of the rest of us who went to the zoo, the lions were feeling pretty lazy by two o’clock and just laid around in the shade.
I was kind of nervous the whole ride (not because of the lions), but because Thatcher is still pretty nap-dependent and the peels and squeals of laughter from the backseat from both Thatcher and Romeo indicated that nobody was getting any sleep, anytime soon.
Luckily for us, both boys kept it together for nearly the entire trip. Thatcher had a slight breakdown, when we left the hall of monkeys. Unfortunately outside in the stroller corral, he spotted a fancy-looking little unit that was a little blue car that the parents pushed along with a handle. He promptly rejected his little pink floral stroller in lieu of this little hot rod. However, when we went to extract him from it, because the family it belonged to exited the monkey area and were ready to carry on with their travels, he had a minor meltdown. This caused another mother to stand in-front of him for several minutes clutching the handles of her stroller before making the executive decision to go around him, and dropping the comment ‘Really, you’re just going to leave your kid in the middle of the lane, REAL NICE!’ Not often do I have too many ‘Mama bear’ feelings, but in that moment I had to resist the urge to give the lady who could have just went around like everyone else, a piece of my mind.
Thatcher and Romeo were probably both most excited to check out the new polar bear exhibit. If you haven’t been to the zoo in a few years, I encourage you to go, it’s entirely different! Thatcher has been reading Eric Carles' ‘Polar Bear, Polar Bear What Do You Hear?’ and ‘Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See?’ So, being given the opportunity to witness both bears in real life, truly made his day.
It wasn't much longer after that, we decided we had had enough and needed to leave. We loaded little T up in his previously rejected pink stroller and took off down the sidewalk to our car. En route, a sweat bee dive-bombed my face and stung me in the lip. Luckily, the injury was minor and I was still able to eat pizza at Ian’s Pizza on State Street.
Although pizza may be considered one of Thatcher’s all time favorites, he was so wore out that he slept through the entire thing. Chasca carried him several blocks down to the State Street eatery and carefully and lovingly draped a napkin over his son’s head, while he ate his ‘Chicago Dog’ style slice. All the while, fellow patrons laughed at the sight.
Thatcher didn't wake up until we left and were standing at the head of State Street looking at the Capitol. Suddenly a large group of young men in fancy red-sequined dresses emerged from the doors and cam down the steps toward us. They were sporting fanny packs and joyously hooting and hollering for all-the-world-to-hear. Thatcher popped awake just in time for one of them to hop up on the statue and moon the whole-wide-world, including T, who just responded with “Thaaaaaaat?!” before laying his sleepy head back on his Dah Dah’s shoulder. Having formerly lived in Madison, I can’t say I was surprised. Rather, I was far more amused to realize that some things never change.
It was all an adventure to say the least—especially for the two young boys who don't get out of the valley at all. It’s an adventure we promised to repeat again some day, perhaps sans the capitol steps mooning.