“The face of a child can say it all, especially the mouth part of the face.”
- Jack Handy
I took my three year old nephew to the Philadelphia Zoo on Saturday, and it was an absolute joy. While walking up to the entrance, he laughed and pointed at the various murals painted over the walls, frequently exclaiming “I’m so excited! I’m SO EXCITED!” with a volume that made his voice echo within the concrete beneath the bridges. Couples with children would look over and smile at my nephew, who was talking up a storm, as their children slept softly in strollers and papooses.
Jordan was happiest when we saw the elephants and monkeys, and was absolutely thrilled when the rhinoceros took a massive, steaming poop right in front of us. Parents spent their time trying to make their kids stop crying while handling their own disgust. While all these other children around us cried or screamed, Jordan laughed hysterically and clapped his hands, which definitely mirrored my own behavior.
He was also thrilled when he saw the penguins, which he frequently referred to as “happy feet”. There would be no correcting him, as another child quickly learned. When the kid, who was probably five or six, said “they’re call pen-gins”, Jordan promptly yelled at him. That’da boy.
I was pretty proud of the little guy. He wasn’t scared of any of the large animals. He couldn’t wait to see the bears, especially the polar bear. A zoo employee and several parents gave me a disapproving look when I explained where polar bears came from. Whatever.
However, what did horrify him for some unknown reason, were the ducks. Maybe it was because there were seriously hundreds of them at the zoo that day, waddling up and down the paths, wading inside empty exhibits, and of course, floating merrily in the giant duck pond. They were free to walk around the zoo, and Jordan was not having it. He ran away from them every time one appeared, and promptly asked to go see the lions again.
He was also scared of the red panda, pictured above, in a rare capture of a licking-his-nose moment. Score!
Sure, we took a lot of cliche silly photos, most of which you can catch on the Flickr stream, but it was fun. I felt very parent-like and touristy, even though I’m not a parent and I actually live in Philadelphia, thus negating any chance of tourist comparisons. But it was fun pretending. I didn’t rush to correct people when they told me what a cute kid I had, or when the zoo lecturers referred to me as his “handsome dad”.
And come on, who am I to argue that one.
Can’t wait for the next visit, little guy.