I wouldn’t say I’m overburdened with realism. Despite having faced many hard realities, I still live fairly comfortably in a fairyland where my children will never grow up and move away, and I believe that a day at the zoo with 4 children will be super, super fun. Brother will love sister and sister brother, and husband and wife will agree on what animals to see and how long the day should last, and the sun will not beat mercilessly on our fair, freckled shoulders.
It never goes that way. Husband is turned against wife and wife against husband, because some people are morning people who would like to leave the house early and other people are unclear on what early means, after 15 years. And the children, they won’t eat because they’re too excited, which means they will be insane in 2 hours, so threats are made, and cereal consumed under duress.
Earnest discussion happens in the front seat of the car, about when business calls should and should not be taken, and some fairly spicy dialogue about what it means to own your own business and why some people should pipe down about when business happens. We arrive, and park at the wrong lot and have to hike a bit and then wait in line for our season passes. “When are we gonna see some ANIMALS?” the children ask every 35 seconds.
Once we start seeing animals, spirits are high. Everything is exciting, every animal is captivating. The thing is, if you spend a half-hour looking at a warthog, you will never see the lions, which we all know is the point. So the MOG is keeping a pretty steady pace, and I am dragging people by the arms, and they are starting to get tired and hungry. It has been one half-hour. We sit and have some peanut butter sandwiches and grapes, although the MOG is looking longingly at the 4 million dollar hot dogs.
There’s always something. Someone falls down, or gets too tired, or it’s a little hot or a little cold. It’s never perfect. But I’m realizing that perfect doesn’t have to look perfect. When they are grown, they will look back and remember sitting on that bench eating sandwiches, getting scared by the squirrel monkey. The sunburn will fade and they will probably forget that the polar bear has psychological issues. They’ll remember what they see in the photo, us together. So that’s perfect, or close enough.