(Seesa asked me to put three pony tails in her hair
that day "so I can look like a clown" - direct quote)
I recently took a trip to the San Francisco Zoo. I was excited to see the new baby gorilla, Hasani, and I knew my girls would love seeing him too. I've got a routine when I visit the Zoo, that's tried and true. We get there just as they open, head straight for the bears to watch them catch live fish for their morning meal, head over for a ride on the steam train, check out the lions and tigers on our way to eat lunch, then head over to the children's area where we check out the meerkats and friends and the kids are just finishing their cotton candy in time to go into the petting zoo. That's the routine. And it works.
But not this time... Here's how this last trip went.
Get to the zoo just as they open - check. But wait a minute. Why is there a huge line of people waiting to get into the zoo? Weird. It's a weekday. What is up with that? I'm not too worried at this point, because I have a zoo membership, so I won't have to wait in that long line. When I get up to the front, I see a sign "SF Residents Free Day". Awesome. I can't stand crowds, and will do anything to avoid going somewhere during busy times, so this really sets us up for a fun visit.
Get the push jeep for the kids to ride in - check. Essential, especially with the crowds. I've got them contained, and can quickly move from one place to the next at my own pace.
Look at a zoo schedule to see when the baby gorilla is on display - check. Find out the gorilla exhibit is closed that day - shit.
Quickly head over the the far end of the zoo, so we can make it to the California bear exhibit in time for the morning feeding - check. We're one of the first people there, just a few minutes before feeding time. Except that feeding time is moved forward by a half an hour. Which I only discover after waiting for 20 minutes wondering why they haven't fed the bears yet. Ok, we'll just wait it out another 10 minutes, no problem. 20 minutes later, the zoo keeper comes out to inform us that they can't feed the bears in this exhibit today because of some bee's nest in the exhibit that they need to remove. Hello? Aren't bears used to bees? With the honey and all? Whatever.
Head to the steam train, that should be opening just about now - check. Get in relatively short line, this is looking good. Wait. Wait. Wait. Tell kids that if they don't stop antagonizing each other, we're not going on the train. Wait. Wait. Wait. Ask self WTF is going on today? Text my sister to tell her about my zoo visit so far. She says it sounds like a Fail. Think that if I had Twitter on my phone, I could tweet this right now. FINALLY get on the flipping train.
Try to pass by the carousel quickly enough that kids won't notice...nope. Kids noticed. Kids want to ride. Badly. Get in huge line for the dumb tokens. Really? I can't just give you my four bucks and get on? I have to wait in one line for tokens, and then another line to give you the tokens and get on the ride? The line for tokens is really more of a mob around the token machine, than a distinguishable line, so I sort of make my way to the front. One person finishes, and I'm standing next to another woman with a Gosselin-size family of kids and all I know is, I've got my money out and ready to go, and she's still rifling around her purse - so I just start shoving my money in and grabbing my tokens. I can't be totally sure, but she may have called me a few choice words in Spanish.
On our way over to grab some lunch, I asked the kids if they wanted to just head home and stop somewhere else fun on the way home. They are having nothing to do with that idea. Apparently, THEY are having fun! At least someone is...
Acquire surprisingly healthy meal and actually find a table to sit at - check. The cashier commented as I showed my membership for a discount on my meal, "I didn't expect to see any members here today". Yah. Well. I'm clearly not a well-informed member. Kids finish meal, with the promise of post-lunch cotton candy.
Leisurely peruse the rest of the zoo, with kids happily contained in the jeep, eating cotton candy and drinking "monkey juice", aka grape juice in monkey shaped bottles. Arrive at the petting zoo area, just in time to wipe sticky sugary hands off so that we can go feed some goats and ogle the baby ducklings. Check.
Head home prior to any waypastournormalnaptime meltdowns. Check.
Moral of the story = expectation and attitude are everything. My kids had no expectations for our zoo visit, and they had a grand ol' time, despite the series of unfortunate events that plagued my day. They are a constant reminder to me, to not sweat the small stuff - and it's ALL small stuff.
Cotton Candy and Monkey Juice - it doesn't get better than that