10PM, Me: Babe, are you listening?
Husband: *distractedly scrolling through his phone* Yea.
Me: Here’s the plan for tomorrow. A, then B, you do C, I’ll do D. Okay?
Him: Okay, sounds good!
7AM, Also him: So, what’s the plan?
This past weekend we took Charlotte to the Toronto Zoo. She’d never been and we thought it would be a great end-of-summer family activity we could look forward to. We had hyped it up to Charlotte for weeks leading up to the actual day. She woke up every morning last week asking in her small, diminutive voice if it was zoo day yet. We knew covid would present some barriers (mandated masking indoors, masking outdoors when social distancing was not possible, pre-booking a non-refundable visit date and timeslot, etc.) but we had high hopes, nonetheless.
What we hadn’t anticipated was how hot it was going to be. I obsessively checked the weather every day praying the rain that was slated for our visit to the zoo would do us a favour and stay away. Evidently, my fierce praying worked but Mother Nature decided to light us up in invisible flames instead. IT. WAS. SCORCHING. My soul was melting physically and spiritually. I was exhausted, irritable and desperate for any sort of breeze. I felt like I had been stranded in the Sahara Desert without any relief from the blazing sun going on day 25. At one point, I bent over to grab something from the undercarriage of the stroller and I didn’t know if I would be able to get back up. I felt faint. Finally, I had to dip behind a low, shaded building to give myself a sponge bath with a dainty baby wipe and change into the blessed tank top I happened to bring for that exact reason (simultaneously flashing a poor antelope).
The heat threw a huge wrench in our day (what with the profuse sweating and all) but also, Charlotte decided once we arrived that she no longer wanted to be at the zoo. We brought her old stroller to cart her around in knowing it’d be a long day. When she decided she had had enough (a short hour into the visit), she retreated to her too-small stroller, sat back and pulled forward the canopy to shield herself from all zoo-related joy. I felt like I was holding it together for all of us by this point. My husband was grouchy because Charlotte was not appreciating how much effort we had put into planning the day for her and Charlotte was refusing to look at the animals. As a relatively new parent to a young child, I always try to catch myself from being that cliché parent but in that moment, all I wanted to do was cup her tiny rebellious face with my hands and remind her of her privilege. Look where we are! Do you know how lucky you are? The zoo isn’t something all children get to experience, you know! You better start having some non-refundable fun right now! Look at the bloody baboon, Charlotte!
By mid-day, the little minion’s attitude turned around after a good helping of fries and nuggets. Reminder to future self: breaded chicken and potato in any form will often do the trick. We were finally able to enjoy the animals in their (somewhat) natural habitat. Although, most of the animals were just as miserable as we were in the blistering heat and being gawked at. Here’s a picture of an orangutan using a cardboard box to create some shade for itself.
Looking back upon exiting, I realized the zoo was a large breeding ground for desperately defeated parents trying to corral their cranky, whiny children and all the billion accessories we, parents, have to lug with us everywhere we go for the just-in-case moments (toys, books, water bottles, healthy snacks, bribing snacks, diapers/pull-ups, wipes, extra clothing, plastic bags, masks, towels, sunscreen, hats, the never-ending list goes on). My husband and I couldn’t leave fast enough.
Planning an event? In lieu of gifts, consider donating to a charitable wildlife organization.
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