Friday, April 4, 2014

And Now, Elephant

Strawberry loves elephants. I can't blame her, elephants are cool. No one messes with elephants unless they're supremely dumb or have a death wish, elephants are super intelligent, sometimes bury their dead, all sorts of cool things. Like in a parallel universe I'd love to get a degree in something sciencey (you see how well I have thought this out) and then travel to Africa and study elephants, where all the animals would love me and never try to kill me. Strawberry has inherited my admiration of elephants and owns elephant figurines, elephant Duplos, etc. She loves them.

The other day I felt obliged to pack up the kids and go somewhere. The sun was kind of out and we needed a change of scenery. I dragged everyone down to the parking garage, loaded up the carseats, and then tapped the steering will contemplatively with my finger as I waited for the garage door to open. I didn't really want to hit up the mall again, and it seemed dumb to drive to one of the nearby parks. Then I remembered that earlier, Strawberry had been singing a farm song I now automatically tuned out because of how often I heard it.

"Strawberry, today we are going to a farm!" I declared as I turned onto the road and Strawberry chirped, "Oh yeah, a farm!"

"On the farm we can see sheep, and goats, and cows and chickens," I continued, trying to be a Good Mom by getting her hyped up.

"Seep an goat an cow!" she repeated. "And a ticken! MMM!"

So maybe there was a tiny hole in my plan, but never mind. We're lucky enough to live about twenty minutes away from a farm that's part of a city's park. It used to be a real, working farm, but instead of bulldozing over it as the city expanded they incorporated it into their park system and keep a fair amount of animals and pastures open to the public. Parents are there with their toddlers all the time, for obvious reasons.

We pulled into the parking lot. Puppy was calm and looked around with interest, rather than scorn, as I loaded him into our Ergo baby carrier. Strawberry looked up and noticed a hawk chilling on the streetlight next to our car. This was A Good Plan, I thought to myself. We are out and the kids will have fun because this is one of those Important Enrichment Experiences all those child development books and websites talk about. My mood became even more optimistic when we entered the playground near the farm, I let Strawberry out of her stroller and she began happily running after ducks.

After a few minutes of causing ducks to retreat into a creek, I pointed Strawberry towards the farm buildings. She ran ahead of me as Puppy gnawed on the baby carrier straps. "Oh, iz a seep!" she exclaimed as three sheep munched on some grass near the edge of the fence. Two, clearly used to tiny primates screaming at them, kept on calmly eating. The third, a greyish fluffy fellow, looked wary and moved away as Strawberry jumped up and down yelling something nonsensical.

There were also rabbits, and rabbit butts. 

A rooster was crowing, and Strawberry ran towards the sound. We entered the chicken coop area and she danced around singing, "A ticken! A ticken! Coo doo doo doo!" Thankfully, she did not ask to eat them. After a few minutes she suddenly turned to me and said, "And now, elephant!"

I froze. "What? Elephant?"

"Yeah. Da elephant!"

"Oh...Strawberry...there are no elephants here. This is a farm."

Clearly, by the wide-eyed looked she gave me, she had no idea what I was talking about. I had brought her to a place with animals. Elephants were animals. Where were the elephants?! All those farm books and farm songs that never mentioned elephants meant nothing. Nothing.

I panicked and exclaimed, a bit too loudly going by the look another wandering mother gave me, "Let's see the COW now! A cow! See, cow!"

Strawberry ran to the fence and looked at the big brown cow in the pasture. My relief only lasted a second, as the next thing out of her mouth was, "Gentle pets da cow?"

"I'm sorry, Strawberry. We can't give the cow gentle pets. She is busy eating."

I got the same wide-eyed stare in return. "Gentle pets da cow?"

"...Let's go see the PIGS now! Pigs! Oink, oink, oink! Right?"

Parents of toddlers can never quite win.

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