Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Lions and tigers and flamingos, oh my!!!

Today was our trip to the Pittsburgh zoo with Shiv's school. No, not just any ordinary day!! We were all set to ride the school bus with the other kids....and my 10 month old!! So, why didn't I just take the car instead? Well, let's just say that I'm indulging my 3 year old's fascination with school buses and decided to take on the challenge of traveling on one with diapers, wipes, change of clothes, snacks, fruit, water, juice, sandwiches, yogurt, formula, change of clothes (Did I say that already?!!!) and a really large stroller. Yup, everything but the kitchen sink!!! This is when the whole cloning process would come in handy...but then again, I'm not sure how I would handle another me in the same room. Or in this instance, on the same bus!!! You know when they say that it's the little things in life that bring a smile to your child's face. Well, all I can say is that Shiv was beaming the whole way; looking out of the window and waving enthusiastically at other cars beside us. Shome, of course, was Shome. My little munchkin; so full of happiness and contentment. He just "da da daad" as the bus chugged along.

For some reason, Shiv kept wanting to see only the lions and tigers. The strange thing is that the child always complains of not wanting to sleep in his room because of the lions and tigers residing somewhere in the closet!! He seems to have developed a genuine fear of all animals with sharp teeth. (Note to self: must track down author of book with illustrations of sharp-toothed creatures and tell him/her a thing or two!!!). Of course, since the animals looked like they weren't going anywhere, he suddenly assumed this air of bravado and insisted that he was going to roar and scare them away!! I didn't want to let down the poor child by informing him that the lion could probably eat him up in one big bite, so I just patted him on the head and prayed he wouldn't be the only kid making weird noises at the animals. Luckily for us, there were hordes of school children making their rounds, so my 3 year old seemed like an angel in comparison to the groups rushing around, like the candy store had just been opened!!

So we made our way through the zoo. To be honest with you, the idea of gawking at "caged' animals is something I'm not really comfortable with. I guess, on the one hand, zoos are about conservation of wild life, but then again, when I see a polar bear trying to stay cool in 70 degree Fahrenheit weather, I feel that's just not right. But hey, who am I to pass judgment, when I enjoy a juicy steak every now and then!!! It was remarkable though to see all these beautiful animals and birds from up close. We pretty much covered the whole zoo, including the aquarium. Unfortunately, there were some animals that were absent from their respective "abodes". No giraffes or gorillas!! Yes, I should have been content with the zebra, penguins, ostrich, and flamingos. Hey, there was even a little Nemo look-alike at the aquarium, and a camel, who looked like he was in dire need of a shower!! We saw the elephants splashing in the water. (Watch the video of the baby elephants at the end!!). The penguins were all out, flapping and waddling about. And how can I forget the boa constrictor!! Shiv went right ahead and patted the snake, like an old friend. Of course, it was straight to the hand sanitizer area after that!! But I was quite impressed at how unafraid he was.

Sadly, the gorillas were on strike!! Or so it seemed, because there was absolutely no sign of them. I always love watching them and their human-like qualities. Twiddling their thumbs or swatting flies, or trying to stay dry from the air....so much like ourselves!!! I guess what made up for the lack of our hairy cousins was the peacock who strutted around our table, while we took a break. I'm extremely embarrassed to say that I've never seen one this close even back in India!! I managed to get a snapshot of Shome looking at the bird, all wide-eyed. It was priceless!!

You know, it was a great day after all!! I told the mothers, we were hanging out with, that if I started hyper-ventilating about all the stuff I had to carry and the baby, that they should just smack me in the head!! But that wasn't necessary at all. Shiv and Shome were absolute angels the whole time. We had no accidents, tantrums, fights or drifting away. We bonded with the animals (or so I'd like to think!!), and the other kids and their mothers. There was just a lot walking, laughter and sharing. We got back home in one piece on the school bus and everything was A-okay. Of course, Shome then threw up all over himself while I was trying to feed him, and Shiv decided to take a poop and needed to be cleaned at that precise moment!! So, I placed Shome in the tub, wiped Shiv's butt, bathed, diapered, clothed and fed Shome; got him to take a nap; read to Shiv, negotiated with him about when he could get an ice-cream, got him to fall asleep. And then I sat down with my cup of tea, and thought, "Dear God, thank you for a beautiful day!! But if possible, don't make me go through it again!!!".

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