Thursday, December 08, 2005

Now THAT'S an Outing!

I have never felt like a better dad than I did Thursday: I took the Boy to the Zoo.

The ride over to the Connecticut Avenue entrance was rough. I stopped to gas up the car on the way, and I took too long. I couldn't communicate with the cashier through the bullet-proof glass, the Boy started crying, he wouldn't take the warm bottle in the passenger seat, meanwhile I was blocking traffic at Pump #1. Eventually we got out of there, and the Boy was asleep when I found a (great) parking spot.

Passing by the hoopla surrounding the baby panda, I made a beeline for the Amazonia exhibit. It's an indoor rainforest, warm and humid and green and leafy, with monkeys (small "m") and tropical birds darting about the canopy. Sometimes they howl or cheep.

I was hoping to get to Amazonia quickly, so that he could take a bottle in the highly oxygenated atmosphere of the rain forest. But I misremembered the distance to the exhibit. (I used to jog through the zoo all the time when I lived in Adams Morgan.) It was a beautiful morning, with bright sun reflecting off the recent snow. But since it was below freezing outside, and the Boy was waking up, I ducked into the Elephant House.

Inside, there was a giraffe that absolutely blew the Boy's mind. The giraffe towered directly over us, eating from his elevated feeder. Staring up from the baby carrier on my chest, his eyes grew huge.

The Boy loves our pets, a cat and dog. He especially loves "Kitty Cat," laughing whenever she ambles into view. I guess a giraffe looks sufficiently like a cat or a dog to trigger an association...but he was clearly trying to process some dramatically new information.

We walked by the elephants, too, and he liked them. Kandula, the elephant born at the Zoo only a few years ago, was playing in his area. He charged back and forth, pausing to crash into some large plastic rings chained to the bars. It made a racket, and got the Boy's attention.

Off to Amazonia. We entered by a very large fish tank with turtles, huge catfish-looking things, and other Amazon river critters. The Boy loved it. I unbundled him, then we went into the rainforest section.

Best of all, I found an empty carpeted conference room just outside the exhibit where the Boy could stretch out, get his diaper changed, and eat a little from his bottle. Another dad with two young sons (and an au pair) came in and we talked about my first week on the job.

The Zoo. You can't beat it.

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