Over the weekend Mira was invited to a birthday party for a little girl in her preschool class. As any 3 year old would be, she was proud she had an event to go to, something that was just for her as well as her parent escort.
I decided to make the most of it and have a one-on-one morning with Cordy. Thanks to a little sister who insists on always being on my lap or hanging off of me whenever we’re at home, I feel like Cordy and I often don’t get much time to chat and bond. This would be our chance to hang out with no interference from Mira, where she could have my undivided attention and I might get the chance to see what’s going on in that pretty little head of hers.
I left the plans open to her, and she decided we were going to the zoo, followed by lunch at Bob Evans. Thankfully, the forecast was for a warm, sunny day – rare in November – so I happily agreed.
Once at the zoo, Cordy was intent on riding all of the rides. The Columbus Zoo has an area called Jungle Jack’s Landing that features carnival-type rides for kids, but this area was blocked off with a sign announcing it was closed for the season. Cordy was disappointed, but I suggested we try to look at some of the animals while we were there, since, you know, it IS a zoo.
With no little sister to object, Cordy demanded we go to her favorite places: the fish and the snakes. For some reason, those two exhibits are her favorites. She loves watching the fish swim around, “driving” the boat in the manatee area. We talked about all of the different fish, and she oohed and aahed over the pretty colors of the coral in the tank.
In the reptile house, she pushed all of the buttons in the information area before moving on to the display animals. She chattered about each one, pointing out one was really long, another was hiding in a tree, and yet another had a funny shaped head. We had nowhere to be, so I let her go at her own pace as she went through her normal routine of pushing buttons, asking me to point out where we live on the map, and then talking about each snake as we walked past them.
Outside of the manatee exhibit, I also let her climb on the manatee sculpture – something I’m usually unwilling to wait around for. But it wasn’t crowded, so there was no wait.
After that, Cordy wanted to ride the carousel – the only ride open in the zoo that day. I purchased a ticket for her and we waited in line. When did she get so big that she now wants to go on the carousel? I remember her crying at the thought of riding it years ago. I remember sitting with her on the bench seats of the carousel because the up and down motion of the horses scared her too much. Now here she was picking the horse she wanted, holding on tight and waving to everyone instead of keeping a death-grip on me.
Having seen her favorite animals and taken her ride on the carousel, Cordy announced it was time to go to lunch. But not before asking to pose (yet again) with her favorite penguin statue.
We then went to Bob Evans, where Cordy got to sit on her side of the little booth with no one next to her. “Mom, I’m all alone over here,” she announced, “Can’t you sit with me?” I explained that there was no room for me over there, and that she was big enough to sit by herself now. Stretching out her arms, she decided she liked all of the space to color and work on her activity sheet.
After the meal, Cordy begged for dessert. I normally say no, but since this was her special day, I gave in and agreed. She loved every bite of her sundae, even as I cringed and realized the coloring in the hot fudge and cherry might provoke a behavioral reaction later.
(Side note: it did. She didn’t act the same the remainder of the day and had a fierce meltdown that night over spelling a word wrong. My lesson from this? Even if it’s her special day, we still have to hold firm to rules about “bad” foods.)
On the way home, she fell asleep in the car, but not before telling me that this was “the best mommy-Cordy day ever.”
And it was.
I don’t know how many more years she’ll want to spend time with me in public, but I’ll selfishly hang onto these moments for as long as I can.