Me: "Look, Madeline, LOOK! See the bears?! The bears?!"
Madeline: "Nope. Don't care. When's lunch?"
It was then that we realized that things like trips to the zoo or aquarium are much more fun for us than for her. And if we're going to be shelling out $20 a ticket...Madeline better be having fun.
The Bears: You're not so great either, kid.
Now we know that going on adventures with Madeline can be as simple and cost-free as stopping by a Petco on a Sunday afternoon.
Whenever we find ourselves doing errands near one of these superstores, (which is pretty often...they're everywhere) we stop in to show Madeline the animals. Most of the time, there's nothing more than some fish, reptiles, rodents, and birds, but that's plenty of excitement for a one-year-old child.
Madeline is a big fan of the fish. She is certainly more interested in them than the bears at the zoo. There must be something about the bright colors and non-threatening water habitat that draws her in. Meanwhile, she's equal parts curiosity and caution when it comes to the birds We hold her close and speak to her gently while she watches the parakeets hop about their cages with rapt attention. She doesn't seem to care much about the reptiles either way, and she's only mildly curious about the rodents. (I don't find them particularly interesting either, Maddie Bear. Bleck.)
Sometimes there are cats there waiting to be adopted, but Madeline seems to have a bit of a fear of felines. She holds us close and shakes her head no when we bring her to see them. I wonder if she has subconscious memories of her run-in with Dizzy...
The many dogs who frequent Petco might seem like a more interesting target for Madeline's enjoyment, but we usually try to stay out of their way. Going to the store must be a pretty exciting trip for a Poodle, and I wouldn't want to ruin the fun by making it behave for a baby. Imagine if an unleashed dog came up and tried to pet Madeline while she was at the playground for example. I'd be a bit annoyed that I'd have to guard my child from animals in what is clearly a kid zone, so I offer the dogs the same courtesy while on their turf.
However, Madeline is free to view the dogs behind the glass as they engage in doggie play dates or get their doggie pedicures, which she loves. She waves, and ooohs, and says, "Hi puppy!"
Our trips take no more than fifteen minutes, but it's a nice way to break up errands with something interesting for Madeline to see.
And while I'm sure that we'll be visiting the zoo again this summer now that Madeline understands what a lion is, it's amazing to see the wonder and curiosity blazing in her eyes over something that we adults tend to dismiss as the mundane. Who knew a tank filled with goldfish could be so wondrous?