Any trip to the zoo leaves me a trace sad. Except that one time Nikki and I met Bek at the zoo in Toledo and managed not to see one single wild animal, but did manage to crash the Barenaked Ladies sound check. Contest winners? Yes, yes we are. The Toledo Zoological Gardens are the home of #ketchupandmustard, so will always hold a special place in my heart. Plus it’s an epic achievement to haul ass around a rather large zoo without catching one single glimpse of wildlife, wouldn’t you agree? Ah, good times.
Last Wednesday, on my darn birthday no less, I shuttled a nearly dead bunny to the Humane Society, only for it to gasp its last breath about three minutes before our arrival. Baby bunny had been hit by a car, the vet surmised, and its future was not bright upon impact. She thanked the boys and me for doing the right thing to help Peter Cottontail, though our attempt was in vain. This morning, rounding the corner back to our house, I found a dead bird lying on the alley sewer grate. Mercifully, I spied the bird before Caleb the Wonderdog did, so was able to steer him away. What is the deal with wildlife this week?
The Green Bay Packers are as near to a religion as I follow these days. Game day is a big deal where I live, and we do tune in. Some games are straight-up events, parties with green and gold-themed foods and décor, but most often game day comes and goes with just the four of us around the TV. My birthday falls on the equinox, meaning our days for outdoor opportunities are becoming numbered. Baseball got canceled this morning, so we thought we would knock out a few hours at the zoo before Packers kickoff. Strike while the iron is shining, and all that.
I wasn’t as sad about the animals as I typically get today, though the polar bear’s green patch of fur freaked me out a whit (algae from its habitat’s pool). I was completely within myself sad as I watched my big kid trek around. There are some days where MD kicks his butt a touch more squarely than other days. Today? He was so tired that he had to stop and sit every few minutes. There are some days where his disease is in my face screaming out loud; the slap on my face from MD’s hand of reality stings acutely.
I sat with him outside the aquatic and reptile center because it was near the end of our visit and he had to sit it out. Did he say that he wanted to sit it out? No, he didn’t. He offered a non-committal shrug when asked if he wanted to go in. “Nah, it’s OK,” he mumbled. Yeah, it’s OK, but it’s usually one of his fave stops, so I knew he had hit he wall. Sunglasses were a welcome fashion accessory this morning, as they covered my leaking eyes. I think my kid and I were both dancing around the 800 lb. gorilla in the room. Technically it was an orangutan, but I’ve already massacred one metaphor here two paragraphs ago, so we’re sticking with gorilla. We both pretended it was no thang. He didn’t have the energy to keep walking; I didn’t have the heart to inquire and make him verbalize that. Win/win? Lose/lose? Choose your own adventure.
I walked behind my three boys in a line at one point, watching as they goofed. I had a notion to get a picture of the three of them lined up, but in the moment decided against it. I was struck by something else. My husband only just barely keeps his height advantage over the big kid now, and our younger son is not at all far behind. It was a glimpse into the future–in the very, very near future, those roles will reverse–little one will likely be the tallest, big kid will be in the middle, and Tom will relinquish the tallest guy in the house title.
I was further struck recalling the blindness I’d clutched with all my might for eleven years. Watching my older son amble around the zoo, I wept to myself. How could I have been so blind? How, HOW did I not see? How did I believe for so long that he’d grow out of it? His limbs are so long and so thin. His muscle tone? Well, there really isn’t any. He is all straight, long lines, and I just don’t know how on this earth I imagined he would grow from his lankiness into a lithe and agile young man. Pretending was nice, though I suppose I wasn’t exactly pretending everything was aces. From little on, I knew something was up, so it wasn’t pretending I was doing. What was it though?