I’m fairly confident in my ability to be a good Dad, I have a good rapport with children and just enough whimsy and wackiness to usually do a good job of keeping them amused. I’ve also learned to not take myself too seriously – most of the time, at least – when around kids because, after all, they’re going to be blunt with you anyway, so ya better not be too touchy.
Even with this, however, I quaked in fear when Linda asked me if I’d take A- and four of her girlfriends to the Denver Zoo for a birthday adventure. A- just turned nine, and her pals were all eight or nine too. Five girls. And me. Ai ya!
Last weekend we set out from our house, with all the girls safely buckled up in the car and me resisting slipping my iPod into my jacket pocket. Must resist urge to unplug!
The first question that was answered for me was about what five girls do when stuck in a car together for half an hour. The answer: have fun and be really nice to each other. Phew. In fact, one of the girls was knitting while we were driving and all the other girls kept leaning over to see what she was doing, complimenting her on her knitting speed, and generally being really happy together. (I really love the level of respect children have for each other in a Waldorf school, I must say)
We decided, well, I decided, that the Old Spaghetti Factory in Denver was a good lunch choice and we found it in its funky downtown location just to find out that it wasn’t open for fifteen minutes.
That was the first danger moment: what would the girls do when stuck waiting in front of a building? They solved that one too, by playing a really high-speed game of Simon Says followed by a whirling tornado of tag in the very confined space in front of the building.
Lunch, when we sat down, was good but the service was really slow. I was so proud of A-, however, when all the other girls turned up their noses at salad and she said “gosh, I love salads!” and ordered one. Good parenting at work, right? Must be in the genes! 🙂
By the time we got to the zoo, I was a bit concerned that the girls were going to be running out of steam, but it was my foot that started to act up a bit, actually, and at one point I was limping a bit and the mischievous little monkeys were all trailing behind me, imitating my gait. It was pretty funny.
The Denver Zoo is pretty good as zoos go, with most of the animals in reasonable size enclosures designed to emulate their natural habitat. Highlights include Wolf Woods and a tiger enclosure that offers up-close views of the tigers through glass (see photo).
it’s a large zoo with lots of walking required to see everything, so we walked in a large clockwise circle. But we were all surprised and disappointed that so many of the animals were missing. When it’s winter, many of the animals must be shipped off to warmer climes, but enclosure after enclosure was devoid of any animal life, a definite disappointment for the girls.
But the greatest disappointment was that they all had their hearts set on sharing some cotton candy – it’d been the talk of the group all week at school, in fact. But we couldn’t because it turns out that all the snack areas were closed too. We could see cotton candy through windows, but things were boarded up, so we couldn’t actually buy it.
The girls were devastated, actually, and one of them cried for a bit when we got back in the car as she’d promised her little brother a sample and now couldn’t deliver. I think that fatigue was an ingredient there too, but still, it rather broke my heart.
Other than that cloud, the afternoon, five hours of me and five girls, went remarkably well. Even the drive home to a waiting Baskin-Robbins ice cream cake (yum!) was pretty easy, though the girls were definitely more cranky than on the lovely drive out to the zoo.
All in all, I survived. I’m here to blog about the tale, and y’know what? It was pretty darn fun and I’d do it again.