Before we even got to the zoo, Everett was thrilled with the highway. “Momma, bus!” he said, “Momma, trash truck! Momma, look!” Two-year-olds are so superb at relishing the mundane details of life.
And then there was the zoo. “Mum-tees!!!” the boy keeps saying. That’s his pronunciation of “monkeys.” Monkeys used to be his absolutely favorite thing at the zoo, so much so that he thinks that the name of the zoo is Mumtees. Every single time a monkey swings from a tree branch, he breaks out laughing. I swear: every single time.
This time, though, Everett was also interested in hippos, gazelles, llamas, elephants, flamingos, and one surly-looking cheetah. He was also interested in running along the zoo paths. And eating the grapes I had packed. Oh, man, snack plus zoo equals toddler heaven right there.
I was feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t organized a birthday party for him. The truth is, I haven’t organized many friendships for him. His older sister got a playgroup and a baby-sign-language class and a whole bunch of play dates that pretended to be for her but were actually for me, a new mom desperate to find other moms to talk to. He doesn’t get that as much, because, now, I have enough mom friends. He gets dragged along to her play dates. Or he gets a date with me. For his birthday, this year, he and I went to the zoo.
We played with stuffed animals in the gift shop, giggling and tickling each other with plush toys, until all of a sudden he broke off the game in order to bring a single small cheetah up to the clerk, place it next to the cash register, and then wait patiently, silently. He knows how to buy things already. It was so adorable, I bought it for him, and then he didn’t let go of it for days.
He liked the animals at the zoo, but, even more than that, he was intrigued by the golfcarts that the zookeepers zoom around in, and one bulldozer cleaning an elephant pen, and, or course, the tour-buses. Finally, I took him to ask a bus-driver where to purchase bus-tickets. “Where do you want to go?” she inquired, and I explained, “It doesn’t matter. My boy just wants a bus ride.” His admiration for her vehicle was so clear that she offered to let us on the bus for free. Then she dropped us off by the tram ride, and Everett stopped talking about monkeys. Now all he talks about is “UP! UP! UP!” We rode the sky-tram across the zoo. Then we rode it back. Then we rode it back again.
Finally it was time to go home, and the gatekeeper stamped his arm for reentry. “Tattoo!” he exclaimed. “Like Daddy!” He was so proud.
We picked his birthday cake up from the bakery, then picked his sister up from school, and the task of holding the kids off the cake proved impossible.
“Elmo cake!” has become another happy refrain of his, now. Whenever anyone says “Happy birthday,” he answers, “Elmo cake!” He met another two-year-old at the swimming pool the other day, and while the mom & I established that our kids were indeed close in age, he just told the kid: “Elmo cake! Elmo cake!” The kid seemed to appreciate that idea.
To complete his special day, Evs asked for nail polish.
See those chubby cheeks in that photo? Irresistably cute.