Heath and Gavin were on one side of the freeway in Oakland. I will explain why later. On the other side of the freeway in Oakland, I spent the day at the Oakland Zoo with my friend Sheila and the kids she babysits. We originally planned to go to Tilden Park but the trains don’t run until the middle of June. So we met some other friends from the ward at the zoo.
Parker was nervous about going to the zoo because I am the most un-American stay at home mom. I don’t take my kids to the zoo on a regular basis. The last time we went was three years ago when we lived in San Francisco. We went with my aunt, uncle and cousins to the San Francisco Zoo.
Since Parker hadn’t even turned two years old yet when we went, he didn’t remember the experience. He wasn’t sure what to expect this time. He is developing a pretty radical dog phobia that is spilling into a fear of all animals. I tried to explain how the zoo would work. I think he had a hard time picturing it. Gwen, on the other hand, couldn’t wait to see the animals.
Parker said he didn’t want to see any bad animals. He specifically mentioned tigers. I couldn’t help but think of the 2007 Christmas Day tiger mauling at SF Zoo that resulted in the death of a 17 year old boy and the 4 year old tiger that killed him. I reminded myself that the boy and his friends were drunk and high taunting the tiger. They got what their behavior deserved. Sorry, but it’s true.
We got to the Oakland Zoo and Parker and Gwen were pretty excited. I think Parker relaxed when he saw where the animals were in relation to himself. All the excitement, the anticipation, the heat, the smells, the crowds, all of it overwhelmed Parker. He announced he needed to throw up. I did not know what to do. I thought he was being dramatic. I hoped so anyway.
I got out his water bottle I packed for lunch and told him to take small sips. He sipped a little and then we moved across the little zoo pathway to see some monkeys. That’s when I heard Parker retching. Then saw him puking. I steered him toward the bushes to finish his business.
His whole body was an unnatural white color and his lips were a bluish gray. Hmmm. Sheila drove us. We had only been at the zoo for maybe 30 minutes at that point. What to do? We stayed. I ended up pushing Parker in the stroller while Gwen sat in Sheila’s double stroller with Ryan. Tyler walked up the hills and stood on the stroller step if he was tired of walking.
Who was the zoo kidding with those hills? Sheila was definitely getting a workout pushing two or three kids around. I felt my butt and hamstrings on every hill. I never felt bad that I didn’t get a chance to work out that morning but after walking all day and pushing a sick boy who will turn five soon, I got my work out!
The good news is Parker perked up pretty quickly after tossing his cookies. It could have been worse.
We saw most of the animal exhibits. The most amazing and horrifying exhibit for me was the bats. Those things were huge! Imagine Gwen hanging upside down with fleshy wings attached to her arms. That’s about what the bats looked like. We walked into this building to get to the bats. There was a sign by the door reminding people to stay quiet and not to touch the netting inside.
I have been places where you open the door to a building and birds or butterflies fly around my head. The sign by the door says don’t keep the door open long or the animals will fly out. I really expected to see bats out in the open. I was a little apprehensive. The bats were behind a kind of chain link fence on the other side of the building. Thank heavens because, like I said, those things were the size of a toddler. They were majestic, amazing, and creepy all at the same time. I get chills just thinking about them!
Gwen liked the lizard, frog, and snake house best. But every time I ask what her favorite part was she says the giraffes. Parker liked the sun bears best. The last thing we did was pay for tickets to ride the train. I thought it was strange that the train cost money and that it didn’t even go in the zoo. It kind of went behind the zoo and you could see people standing around looking at animals but you couldn’t see any animals from the train.
There were animal statues like a snake and some alligators. The only real animals we saw from the train were Australian animals you can only see from the train. We saw emus and kangaroos. Gwen couldn’t care less that there was anything to look at. She was just happy to be on a train. That girl loves trains! She also waved at all the people which was really cute.
I made sure to get a map for Parker. I used to save maps for scrapbooks but Parker loves to look at the maps. He likes to see what there is to to do while we’re there and he likes to see how to get around. When we get home he will relive the experience for days by looking at the map.
The sun beat down on us all day and I have a lovely farmer sunburn/tan. That happened at the SF Zoo too. It must be a zoo thing! The kids somehow escape the concentrated rays of the sun, thank heavens. I forgot sunscreen and I didn’t think it would be so warm anyway.
It was a fun day in Oakland!