I. am. exhausted. I'm not sure I can type my way through a whole post with coherent sentences. Please forgive me if I leave out words, phrases, or just change topics half way through a sentence because I can't remember what I originally started writing about.
We spent today at the National Zoo, which is always an exciting adventure. After Pixie had announced a few weeks ago that she was planning on petting the lions I made myself her buddy. My only job was to stay with Pixie and prevent her ending up somewhere she didn't belong.
One adult. One kid. You'd think it would be simple.
I could barely keep my eyes open on the bus ride back, despite Pixie's singing of every animal song she knew.
The girl is fast. Wicked fast. One minute her little hand would be clasped in mine and the next she'd be gone, having darted through the tight spaces in the crowd only her tiny body could access. Thank goodness Partner-in-crime requires all the children to wear red for field trips. I could usually spot her red shirt amid other school groups wandering by. She had no problem talking to strangers, pushing three year olds out of the way, or climbing on the fences to get closer to the animals. At one point I caught her with a stranger's binoculars. When I reminded her we don't take other people's things she said, "I asked first." Which the stranger laughingly agreed that she had. She just hadn't waited for an answer before she took them. When redirected and reminded of good zoo behavior she was remorseful, but she'd quickly become so overcome with excitement that she'd be off across the path in no time.
She did, however, remember the rule about not petting the animals. Which didn't mean she didn't really, really want to, or that she ever stopped hoping that I would changed my mind and let her go catch an animal just one time
"Can I play with them?" she asked at the prairie dog exhibit- whose low fence would have allowed her easy access to the dogs if she'd chosen to dive in without asking.
"Thank you for asking first, but no, you may not go in there."
I heard a mother behind me laugh. "Thank you for asking" she repeated. Look- I needed to reinforce the positive behavior. At least she asked. If she'd repeated her behavior from the farm the zoo would have some very traumatized prairie dogs and I'd probably be on the local news right now...
"Can I climb in there?" she asked, pointing to the area housing the lion and his cubs.
"No. But thank you for asking."
"Why? Will he eat me? I'm a nice little girl. I'll just pet him a little bit."
"Can I go there?" she'd ask five minutes later at the Tiger's grassy area.
"Not even just on these bushes right here? I'll just climb on them for a little bit."
Nothing stopped her from climbing onto anything in front of her to get a better view. I spent more time pulling her off walls, fences, and barriers than I spent looking at the animals. We need to get her into gymnastics. She has no fear, loves to climb, and is certainly built for it.
At the moment, however, since pregnancy has left me sans wine, I am recovering with a large bowl of ice cream and planning on going to bed early. One more day until spring break.
I love Pixie. Thanks for the funny -- and vivid -- story!
I love Pixie too, but it's sobering to be told about a 5-year old who needs to be reminded so often of safety guidelines and who ignores them so consistently.
I am writing to you right now after returning from my own fieldtrip to the Botanical Gardens and a great place called Storyland with my 22 first graders and half as many chaperones! It was a lovely warm day with the most exhuberant children on the planet! I am tired but happy it was so successful. Your story about Pixie makes me laugh and reminds me to have more patience. Good one-- "Thank you for asking!"
Congratulations to you also! :o) GR
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