Memorial Day weekend in our family is usually a casual affair spent at one family member’s house. There is the staple cookout complete with plenty of food to go around. And no Serrano Memorial Day weekend is complete without the presence of little one’s running about through a sprinkler or romping about in a pool.
But this year… this year was a year of firsts because my beautiful sister in law Natalia… well, she got a grand idea. This idea sprouted in her brain shortly after 11pm on the Memorial Day Friday night; or atleast that’s when she was inspired to share the idea with me. It was at 11:04pm that I recieved a text stating that we would be kicking off our weekend with a trip to the zoo. At this point I was trying mightily to drift off to sleep after an exhausting day. So I glanced at the message, pictured the forecast of an isolated storm for Saturday in my head, and then I drifted off to sleep. In the morning, dear Natalia gave me a call bright and early to make sure that I was on board. After a night of my 1 yr old repeatedly waking me… I was less than chipper. But I had already decided to slap a smiley face on and run with it. In my less than chipper monotone voice, I warned her about the forecast. She checked again and saw that they were now forecasting sunny skies… so, we decided to go. As the time drew near, I found the smiling easier.
So, off to the National Smithsonian Zoo we went. Things were going fine… none of the kids were screaming their heads off in the car. We drove the 20 minutes into the heart of DC and began to circle the zoo looking for parking. If you’ve ever been to DC or the National Zoo… you know just how futile this search could turn out to be. But we kept the faith and kept looking. We finally found some parking farther than nearby the zoo. Then we made the trek to the zoo entrance. It was turning out to be a hot and sticky day at which point, Natalia jokingly shouted out, “Who’s great idea was this?!” Which got her plenty of smiles and retorts.
We placed the two 1 yr olds in a double stroller, and the 2 yr old and the 3 yr old in another double stroller. The 4yr old and the 5 yr old walked. We had 6 children between us 3 adults. I was quite a bit skittish and worried. But with one adult manning each stroller and the other holding the hands of the walking children… things went pretty smoothly. The excitement of getting there distracted us from taking note of how far we’d walked.
With our stomach’s growling on the way in, we opted to sit down for lunch (which we’d thoughfully packed and brought along) immediately. Lunch went off without a hitch and we went on for the restroom break. My dear 2yr old who I’ll call, Bear, is potty training. So we had our first public bathroom experience there at the zoo… it was not fun. Before I could get the toilet seat all cleaned off and place him on the potty… he grabbed the first thing that interested him and it was a yucky used tampon. Eeeek! Trying not to freak out too much and freak him out, I shouted “Ahhh, Bear! Put that down, DON’T TOUCH ANYTHING!!” I was truly on the verge of tears. I was going through my own inner agony thinking of all the germs that were on his hands when he did something even worse than touching the tampon… he wiped his hand on his face to rub his nose “AAAAHHHHHHH!” I just couldn’t believe my luck! I mean really… of all the things to drive you mad! I quickly let him use the potty while holding both of his hands together so that he could do no more damage. Then I rushed him out to scrub his hands and face.
Emerging from the bathroom, amazingly, I quickly forgot the tampon incident as I refocused to gear up for watching out for my 4 kids in the congested pedestrian zoo traffic. We got to see a few animals; lions, tigers, gorrillas, a 70 yr old turtle, and a young elephant. The most rewarding thing out of the entire trip was the look on my children’s faces and the joy that they showed while seeing, right before their very eyes, all of the animals that they’ve seen in books and on television. The hike back to the cars was beyond exhausting after all of the walking on the way and around the zoo. My muscles ached and sleep deprivation was closing in on us all… but it was great to spend time with family. Time with individuals who care and love for me and I for them. And in this new idea… this zoo idea, I found the same feeling that I’ve found every year on Memorial Day weekend. I found the sense of family, home, and love…. it was a grand idea, indeed.