Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Taking the Zoo to the Zoo

I have done my good deed for the day.  Week.  Month, even.  Heck, I may have very well done the last good deed I'll ever do.  So don't ask me for anything else.  Ever.

Pey's class was supposed to take a field trip to the zoo this past Thursday when I was in Denver, but with rain threatening, they postponed it until today.  Yesterday the doofus in me took over and made me sign the sheet saying that I was free to come along.  Maybe it was jetlag.  Maybe it was the high altitude in Denver that deprived my brain cells of oxygen.  Maybe I was still in shock from almost being run over by the occupy Denver protest.  Not sure.  What I am sure of is that I got more than I had bargained for.

My day started off on the wrong foot when I realized that even though we are card carrying members of the NC Zoological Society, our card had been carried to Portland, OR with J.  Not that I'm cheap, but I really didn't want to have to pay $10 to get inside, just to herd kids around.  As far as I'm concerned, they should be paying me to do that.  I remembered to use all my Southern charm and manners and thankfully the lady at the gate let me in.  I say it was my charm and manners, but in reality, she could have just wanted our loud group of kids to go away and would do anything to expedite her return to quiet.

I had chaperoned previously with Lulu's second grade class--two other girls beside Lulu. It was literally a walk in the park.  They were nice and calm and quiet.  We held hands and skipped. No, not really, but in hazy retrospect it feels like it.  Today my Group #3 was comprised of four kids--two boys and two girls. Not just any two boys--two boys who are repeat behavioral offenders.   Their little good behavior bees have been known to buzz out of the happy behavior hive (or so I'm informed by Pey).  I was worried when the teacher gave one of them a pep talk to behave for me.  From the second their teacher threw up her hands in defeat and told us to meet at the lunch shelter at noon, my Group #3 was off.  Free range kids, given free range over the zoo's two continents--North America and Africa.  I was scared worse than the proverbial deer in the headlights.  Let's face it, I'm not Kate Gosselin nor Octomom.  The two kids I carried for a total of 18 months and that  put every stretch mark and most of the gray hair on me, are more than I can handle--even on a good day.  Here I was faced with FOUR kids that somebody stupidly entrusted me to not lose.

Today I was faced with twice as much work.  I can usually keep one eye on each of my own personal kids (yeah, I'm kinda chamelon-esque in that regard).  I had twice as many kids so I was going cross eyed at times.  I could have used three extra sets of eyes and a tape recorder to record me saying over and over the following including, but not limited to:

  • "Walk!"
  •  "No running!"
  • "Don't get so far ahead!"
  • "Stay with me!"
  •  "Yes, we have to walk and are NOT taking the tram"
  •  "No, I don't have your lunch with me"
  • "No, I don't have a quarter for the viewmaster"
  •  "Stop crawling on the ground"
  • "Put that rock down"
  • "Stop saying 'poop'."
  • "Yes, I see that the baboons have red butts".  

I couldn't believe all the whining, "I'm hot", "I'm tired", "I'm hungry"--and that was just from me!  I am accustomed to being responsible for my two and only my two kids.  They know better than to run far ahead.  They know better than to climb up on everything.  They know not to push the whining button.  They KNOW!

Thankfully the zoo has water fountains everywhere and they were the only things that made the kids stop long enough for me to catch my breath.  Actually, they stopped at every fountain.  If they ever switch to harder drinks, there is a lot of AA in the future. I was shocked and slightly embarrassed when one of the kids in the group said an ugly word to the kind, retired lady who was trying to explain that a rhino's horn is made up of lots of hairs fused together.  Hopefully she took it as a sign of how shocked and amazed he was at learning that interesting fact.  Maybe in his culture, that's how they react to all great facts learned.  Who am I to question other cultures?

Another thing I learned was that these kids are natural hams.  Every time I tried to get a pic of Pey, they'd jump in there too, along with the good old bunny ears move.

The school has stringent rules about publishing pics.  Since I'm too lazy to get in touch with the other parents for permission, the kids are pixalated and cartooned.
Thankfully noon came and we met back at the picnic shelter for lunch.  I had squeezed every second out of the two hours I was allotted.  Those kids weren't going to complain that I didn't let them see things.  They came to see animals and by golly, I made them see animals!!  We missed some good chunks of the zoo (such as the gorillas and thankfully the snakes), but I did what I could with those two hours.  I was able to sign Pey out and we went to Chic Fil A.  I had earned it.  A mere peanut butter sandwich wasn't going to cut it.  I needed diet lemonade and lots of it!

Next time I volunteer, it will be for a trip where the kids are on leashes.  And muzzled.

My favorite part--the ride home from Chic Fil A!

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