What a wonderful day at the zoo! One of those picture-perfect days where the weather's not too hot and not too cold. Lunch was plenty, and the snacks tasted good. The animals were active and the people were in a good mood. I kept watching you, and seeing my two-year old, now four, now five, now six... well, you get the idea. Today's trip to the zoo was unique, but it kept reminding me of other trips.
1. Feeding the birds is still your favorite part. From the sweet, elderly lady in Mary Poppins to the innocent and loving Snow White (was that actually her real name or a nickname), you've always known birds should land on your fingers. Today, one even perched on your hat, pecking away at the straw!
2. For years now, you've hurried into the petting zoo and brushed the goats. Do you know every time you do this, I still see that little toddler in a pink button shirt and green gingham shorts? It was easy to identify even then you had a special love for animals. We always have to convince you it's time to move on from the petting area.
3. Dipping dots are a must. You've graduated from the rainbow, sugary ones to chocolate chip cookie dough. I for one am thankful, because now I can enjoy sneaking a bite or two as well.
4. We put a lot of miles on that orange Bob stroller you used in the early years. I saw one today, and it made me smile.
5. They don't let you take strollers into the aquarium, so there's always a collection of them outside the entrance. I found myself quickly glancing in that direction today, looking for a red umbrella one or an orange Bob. Old habits die hard, you know.
6. From the first time you went to the zoo, you've always seemed at home. I saw college-aged kids working there today and wondered if that could possibly be you someday. Oh, how you'd love a job at the zoo!
7. We'd been at the zoo for a few hours when the sky grew overcast, but the rain held off until we left. It didn't give us that luxury on your kindergarten field trip! Remember? The picture of you and two other classmates in blue parkas by the penguin statue. We still have the photo, but it's right there in the album in my mind as well.
8. Daddy has gone to the zoo with us a few times. I thought about the time I talked him into taking a vacation day to join us, only to discover it was PBS day at the zoo, so admission was free. This seemed like a good thing, to us and the 3,000 other people who wanted to take advantage of the sizable discount. He assured me never again. He'd pay full price to avoid the crowd!
9. We didn't ride the camels today. You asked but I opted to save our money. Truthfully, some of the magic is gone for me. You rode a camel at such a young age, and Grandma took her first camel ride with you that day. We can never re-live that moment, but I did re-member it today.
10. Oh, the gift shop! Conveniently placed at the entrance, which doubles as the exit. We get hit by the temptation coming and going. As I've recalled here, much hasn't changed over the years. I'd add your love for stuffed animals to that list. Enjoy your new clingy monkey!
That's the stage I find myself in these days. Reminding myself to live in the moment, while constantly seeing glimpses of the little girl you used to be. You're always up for an adventure and I'm so proud you call me "Mom." But you're so grown up these days, I easily see your future years too. I can see where your interests and personality might take you. What an absolute honor I have a front row seat for that performance. I wouldn't miss it!