It was Sunday morning and I had spent nearly all day Saturday doing shit and mostly ignoring my kids so the guilt hit me square in the nose the second I woke up. I thought a grand gesture was in order and – you know – I’m not really sure why because no where in my “How To Raise Kids” rule book does it say anything about my obligation to entertain them with fun and interesting things twenty-four-seven. I blame Facebook, Pinterest and my kids’ precious little faces for the ever-present mom-guilt that plagues me.
A trip to the Zoo was about as grand a gesture as I felt obliged to make on such short notice. It was 7:15am. The Zoo opens at 8:00am. It’s best, when managing small children in crowded places where they’re not at all inclined to listen or stay close – to get there when they first open … to avoid crowds … and be home for nap time.
A trip to the Zoo with four kids requires planning … like four days advanced planning. And lunch-packing because the food there isn’t that gross until you factor in the cost. For the same price we could be eating lobster mac and cheese at The Chase. It requires no less than one stroller and the two-seater wagon, sunscreen, bottles of water, a stroller-lock so we can ride the damn train and not worry about our stroller being stolen, lunch for six, two to three snacks for four kids because these kids obviously have a tape-worm and require a nonstop stream of food, a change of clothes for everyone because someone will pee their pants no matter how many times we stop at the restroom, hand sanitizer, diapers and wipes. Did I forget anything? Probably. I always do.
We had just barely left the house when we got the first “Are we almost there?” My stomach turned. Somehow my guts knew this trip was ill-fated.
We arrive. We slather everyone in sunscreen. We get everyone situated and we’re approaching the entrance to the Zoo when one of them changes their mind about riding in the wagon. This action triggers a musical chairs relay until finally they’re all walking – except for the baby – and we’re pulling an empty wagon.
We pause just outside the entrance so we can take a picture of the kids with a statue of a gorilla. Or is it a hippo? I don’t care. I just want to post the picture to my Facebook page so that I have photographic proof that I took my kids to the Zoo when they were little.
Not one of the little shits will smile for my picture. It’s almost like they don’t realize that they’re supposed to be having fun … and the amount of fun that I should see on their faces should be in direct proportion to the amount of effort we have put forth so far … which is equivalent to painting a three-story house … or brushing four kids’ teeth … teethes? Can I get a ruling on that one please?
I think to myself “So that’s how it’s gonna be?” and I look to Ben to commiserate. I roll my eyes. He can’t see me roll my eyes because I’m wearing sunglasses. He just stares at me blankly which annoys me even more because now I feel ridiculous for being annoyed with my kids because they’re acting like assholes and not having fun at the goddamn Zoo.
We’re inside. Before we make another attempt to have fun, let’s have everyone try to go to the bathroom. What happened next in the bathroom with my daughters is material for a whole other blog post about which I am not mentally capable of writing about right now. The wound is still too fresh … I, literally, still have a scab.
Three hours after our decision to go to the Zoo, we have finally arrived at an actual animal. We took the kids to pet the stingrays which really is an awesome exhibit and where we were genuinely having fun … until Maggie knocked my iPhone into the stingray pool. And I screamed. And Ben got mad at me for having my phone out while I was holding the baby. And I got mad at myself for having it out while I was holding the baby. And then we made up because it’s only a phone. And then we decided that Maggie sucked. And then we both acknowledged that this day and this trip to the Zoo was kind of a kick in the balls, metaphorically speaking.
And then Ben said “We must hang together … or we will surely hang apart.”
And I laughed … because that shit’s funny. And then he and I were having fun which kind of made us not care that the kids weren’t having fun.
The rest of our time at the Zoo was spent shushing whining kids who were unhappy at the hippos because they wanted to see the bears and unhappy at the birds because the birds suck and they wanted to see the penguins. So we took the ungrateful little b-holes to see the penguins only to learn that the damn penguins exhibit is closed. We decided to call it a day when all four kids were simultaneously moaning and crying in front of what seemed like the busiest train station I’ve ever fucking seen.
At this point, the trip seemed almost masochistic … and we’re not really into that.
Total owed to the swear jar: $2.25!