Adventure Log: Woodland Park Zoo with a Two Year Old

Ok, he’ll be three in a week and a half and how did that happen already anyway? I’ve suggested to his moms that they have another babe, but they have declined. These two are four hands full; I get it. But…

Anyway. My weekly days with the last grandchild is drawing to a close. Another month or so, then I’m taking a break for a couple weeks to store up energy and patience—and have some solitary adventures—for a 12-day Camp Gigi with Adrian and his five-year-old brother Elliot. Did you understand that? Both of them. At the same time. For twelve days.

Five years ago, I spent two days a week with baby Elliot. Then, after a year off, two days a week with baby Adrian. Then another year off. This past school year we’ve spent a day a week together with the hope that one-on-one time would accelerate his delayed speech. I don’t know if it contributed, but a year later he talks nonstop, as does his big bro. Who needs the lottery; I won the jackpot moving back here.

Here on out, it won’t be a regular gig—he’s moving from day care to a stimulating pre-K program with an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP), if he still needs it—but just try and keep me away for long. Although my mother’s mother lived nearby when I was a child, my paternal grandmother was far away. I rarely saw her. (My grandfathers died without ever meeting me.) My children grew up far from both sets of grandparents, though we did the best we could to make regular visits happen. Mostly my cousins lived far away from our common grandparents too. My family has been atypically migratory. To my regret, I am very far from my two oldest grands; but they live across the road from their maternal grandparents and they see their paternal grandfather often. Children need regular contact with grandparents, and I am thrilled that my Bigs and Littles all do, even if it’s not with me.

This week I went to Seattle early, to watch Elliot in the second game of his first T-ball season. He was awesome! Totally focused the entire game. (Somewhere he got the notion that the batter lifts a leg, knowledge that has not yet extended to why or which leg.)

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It was a gorgeous PNW weekend, continuing through the week, and Monday Adrian and I took the bus to the zoo. “School bus?” he asked. “No,” I said, “the city bus.” It took several reminders, but by the end of the day he announced to his moms without prompting that we went on the city bus.

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The Woodland Park Zoo is a beautiful urban habitat 20 blocks or so from home. There is far too much to see in the window of time a three year old and a 66 year old can handle without a stroller or a wheel chair. “What do you want to see?” I asked Adrian. “LULU!” he shouted. Elephants. They don’t have elephants at this zoo, but we headed for the Savannah and giraffes, zebras, and “HIPPOS!” The hippos were sleeping. So were the lions. One of the giraffes is pregnant; due to give birth, after 15 months gestation, any day now. (I think that’s mommy Olivia in front of baby daddy Dave on the left.) In case you were wondering, giraffes are six feet tall at birth.

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I think his favorite, or at least my favorite to watch him experience, was the rain forest aviary. He was delighted, as only a young child can be delighted. He would spot a bird and run back to the interpretive sign and find the match. When one landed on the sign while he was standing there, he was awe struck.

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He played on the hippo lounging in a puddle, then had the snack his most excellent Gigi brought. Sticking his fruit snacks wrapper in his pocket until we saw a trash can, he spotted someone else’s snack wrapper on the ground. He pointed to it and, looking at me, asked, “I do good deed?” “Great idea,” I said, and he put it in his pocket too for the trash.

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The orangutan and the tapirs were sleeping. It was a nap kind of morning, apparently. The rhinos were nowhere to be found. The Komodo dragon was sleeping on a ledge (good grief, those guys are big), but Adrian got up close and personal with the exhibit, with its life size claw and all.

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The meerkat met him at the window after standing modestly at attention as only meerkats can do, and the sloth was eating breakfast. V e r y   s l o w l y. Hanging upside down, of course. Probably you are wondering what sloths eat for breakfast: carrots, broccoli, peas in the pod. The sloth was my favorite, and probably is a foretelling of how I’ll be feeling by the end of each Camp Gigi day.

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We had lunch—which he insisted in his moms report we did not do—then made our way back to the bus stop. It took a while to get there—it’s a big place (94 acres)—but I managed not to be lost and wander like I did last time I was there. The penguins, which must have been sleeping when we went in, were out playing.

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And we ran into the “PEACOCK!” Adrian followed it around, with that unparalleled kid delight thing again. (According to an overheard conversation, it had displayed its feathers earlier, but we weren’t that lucky.) It was first on the storying to his moms and Elliot.

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The Olympics lit up the horizon across the Sound while we waited for the bus. Gah, this is a beautiful city.

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We walked the four blocks home from the bus stop at sloth pace, then collapsed before he took a two-hour nap then another 30 minutes in my lap. It’s been quite a while since he snuggled with me after his nap. I soaked it in. Every experience could be the last of its kind with a child; which is not to say there won’t be many more new experiences ahead. Camp Gigi is going to rock.

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4 thoughts on “Adventure Log: Woodland Park Zoo with a Two Year Old

  1. I remember taking Natalie to the opening of the Komodo Dragon exhibit. She was just two. Under the scratched plexiglass cover on my desk at work, I still have a photo of her in a bright yellow slicker with a young boy she met in line, gathering pine cones and melting my heart. I’m guessing the personal hard drive of your head and heart will be bursting at the seams after your July adventures. Enjoy every moment ♡

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