So, last week Oliver’s class had a field trip to the Prospect Park Zoo. It was the third zoo they’d been to this month during their animal study. (The zoos in Central and Prospect Parks and pretty small, and I’m guessing the one in Queens is, too. If you want to see “real” animals—like lions and giraffes, you have to go to the Bronx.) And since Prospect Park is practically in our ‘hood and where I run 90% of my mileage (probably more, actually), I thought it would be a nice thing for me and Elsa to pop into the zoo while Oliver’s class was there just to say, “Hey!”
I told Oliver that I was thinking about doing this. I didn’t want him to be super surprised to see me, but I also didn’t want him to count on it in case things totally went awry and Elsa and I couldn’t make it, so I just said I was thinking about it and that we might be there. But then I got to the gate and couldn’t help but think of what happened if I didn’t show up. And he had been hoping that I would. So I paid the $8 to get in, even though I hadn’t been planning on it because I thought the pass I had would get me in free. Dang it. And then it took me less than 5 minutes to find Oliver, who was licking trail mix out of someone else’s mom’s hand. He had to do it that way, apparently, because he was wearing his gloves which were, apparently stitched to his hand and unable to be removed.
(Oliver is in the bubble on the left. You can see his purple glove. But this photo is obviously about the peacocks taking over the prairie dog pen.)
Anyway, I tried not to interfere too much or get in the way of the group dynamics, but I wanted Oliver to know we loved him and that we were excited to see him. He didn’t care. We went with his little group to the Discovery Trail and after a few minutes I heard Oliver say to the ether, “Apparently my mom is following me around. . . .” He sounded a little weirded out. And then a few minutes later, “Apparently my mom is going wherever I go . . . .” Again, to no one in particular. At which point I asked him if he cared if we were there or not (Elsa was asleep in the stroller) and if he would be okay if we left or if he wanted us to stay. We could go ahead and leave, he said. But he did try to wake Elsa up so he could say hi and bye. (Which was kind of okay? She talked about seeing Oliver at the park for several days afterward.)
So we left and ran home. And I wondered if he felt loved or embarrassed or confused or what. On our way home I asked him. He said he had been embarrassed. But later I asked him if he wished we hadn’t come at all and he changed his tune. It was okay that I’d come. He was glad I’d done it. I want to believe him. I really do. But to be honest, I just can’t figure out the best way to show these boys that I love them sometimes.