Keyless & Foodless: Stranded at the Zoo

My parents bought us a family season pass to the local zoo for Christmas this year. We have been so excited to use it and decided that we would plan a quick visit after nap time on a hot and sunny afternoon. I packed a cooler of drinks and snacks, bathing suits and towels for the zoo’s splash pad and a diaper bag of essentials.

With a 3 year old and 2 year old in tow, it’s amazing how there really isn’t much of a difference between packing for a 3 hour outing and packing for a weekend away. We wouldn’t have much time to visit; 3 hours at the most by the time we got there until the zoo closed for the day but since we are now fancy schmancy season pass holders, we figured it was still worthwhile since it was only 25 minutes away and we can come and go as we please all summer long.

When the kids woke up from their naps, we told them the good news. They were so excited about this trip and enthusiastically babbled about monkeys and tigers and hippos and lions and flamingos as we changed their diapers and coated them in sunscreen. With the car already loaded, we were off!

Our kids are at an awkward stage right now where they are too little to walk for an entire outing but don’t want to stay in the stroller either. We have a collapsible wagon but it isn’t the easiest or most comfortable thing to pull around so we opted for the double stroller. Hubby dragged it out of the shed and loaded it in the trunk while I buckled the babes into their seats. “We’re going to the zoo…zoo…zoo!” we sang as we cruised down the highway.

Once we had our season passes set up, we were all set and ready for our super quick zoo excursion. The zoo has a little train that transports guests and stops at various points throughout the park. We were seconds too late to board the train that had stopped at the main entrance just as we arrived. We were also close enough for 2 year old Mr. C to watch the train take off right in front of him which caused his first tantrum of the outing; full out kicking and screaming “TRAIN! I go on train! TRAIN!!!!!!!” We tried to explain that we would go on the next train but there is no reasoning with a train-loving 2 year old who just missed the train by seconds.

We continued along the path. Naturally, both kids wanted to walk so Hubby and I took turns pushing the kidless stroller and reigning in the kids and keeping them out of the way of zoo golf carts and the train.

The train. Ugh. It is absolutely impossible to explain “designated train stops” to a 2 year old. As we walked in the heat towards the next train stop, a train would drive past us on its way to the next train stop and Mr. C would try to wave it down and then, when it didn’t stop on his command, he would throw himself on the ground in a full tantrum all over again. We tried to explain that he had to get up and we had to hurry up and run to the next stop to board the train but he didn’t understand/believe us. I tried scooping him up under my arm like a football and running to the next stop but he just flailed in protest. It was so hot and being 5 months pregnant, I just didn’t have the stamina to sprint with a 2 year old in tow to catch the train.

We arrived at a fork in the road. Left to the splash pad which excited 3 year old Miss M and me since it was soooo hot. I was ready for a spot to sit and splash. Plus, it is right by the snack bar and since I’m pregnant, I’m always hungry. Or, we could turn to the right to see more animals. Hubby and I asked the kids what they wanted to do. Miss M chanted “Splash pad! Splash pad!” as she started to undress herself in the middle of the road so she could change into her bathing suit. Mr. C just wailed “TRAIN!!!!!” So, we promised Miss M that we would check out the splash pad later, put her clothes back on and wandered down the path visiting some lions, birds, rhinos and feeding some monkeys on our quest for a train.

We stopped at a shady train stop and decided that we were going to keep missing the trains if we didn’t just stop and wait for one at a designated stop. So we sat on the bunch and had a snack and waited for the train. Poor Miss M. She could not understand why we would choose to sit on a bench and eat goldfish crackers and strawberries when we could be at the splash pad or going back to see the monkeys or doing absolutely anything else at all. She entertained herself by jumping off of a rock over and over again, giving me a heart attack thinking she was going to break her leg or hit her head.

We waited and waited and waited for the train. We waited so long that it wasn’t worth wasting any more time waiting but we were afraid to move since we had waited so long that the train should be arriving any second.

Finally we heard the clanging of the train bell. Mr. C jumped up with glee and started clapping and cheering “The train! The train!” Miss M stood up too but seemed to be wondering why we would come to a zoo and obsess over a train instead of the animals and splash pad. We stood up and waited for the passengers to get off the train so we could board a car that had enough room to hold our double stroller. As I grabbed both kids hands and moved towards an empty train car, a group of people appeared out of nowhere and pushed their way on to the car that I was just about to lift my kids onto as Hubby folded up the stroller.

Right then and there I almost cried. I was so shocked and appalled at this behaviour. I scanned the train. There were no other empty train cars. Dammit.  However, out of every storm comes a rainbow and the most wonderful woman in the entire universe saw what had happened from her spot on the train with her 2 school-aged kids and called me over. She told me take their car as we needed more room because of our stroller and she would move to the next car up which only had 2 passengers. I couldn’t thank her enough. I would say that she had no idea what this meant to me but I’m sure she did and I’m sure that’s exactly why she did it. She had 2 older kids who looked to be pretty close in age. I think she has been here before. We moms have to stick together and look out for each other. Motherhood is too damn hard to do alone. It truly takes a village to raise a child especially when your child is literally going to have a breakdown if he does not get to go on a train ride.

To the awesome mom on the zoo train: Thank you again from the bottom of my heart! You made a huge impact on our family and literally saved the day! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

I loaded the kids into our long-awaited zoo train car while Hubby flipped the stroller to fold it and load it on the train. Another “Good Samaritan” woman on the zoo train shouted over to him “Excuse me! You dropped your sunglasses!” We looked down to see that when he had folded the stroller up, the cup holders on the handle had ended up upside down and my sunglasses along with my phone had been tossed on the ground beside the train. Thank you to this other  kind lady on the train as well. The sunglasses I can replace. The photos on my phone I cannot. I try to sync it often but I take photos 20 times as often. Thank you!

We were off! Mr. C was so excited to be on the train. Thank goodness because if he got on that train and looked like he couldn’t care less, I would have lost what’s left of my mind. He and Miss M pointed out all kinds of things along the way. Anything from a giraffe to a sea gull to mosquito to a garbage can. They loved it! It was nice to sit down for a bit too and enjoy the cool breeze.

By the time our train ride ended, the zoo was about to close. The snack bar was already closed and the splash pad was turned off. We let the kids run around the zoo playground before making our departure. We told them that we would be back soon for a longer visit but for now we had to leave so we could go home and have dinner. The kids were hungry and hot and tired so they really didn’t argue with us over leaving.  It was pretty weird.

We got to our car and noticed that one of the back doors was wide open. For a split second, I thought that maybe our car had been broken into while we were gone. But alas, all of our stray goldfish crackers, toys, socks, hats and wipes were right where we had left them, present and accounted for so we must have left it open when loading the stroller. It’s amazing that that this was actually a first for us. I’m not very religious but I did pray that the door being open hadn’t killed the car battery.

I opened the hatch of our SUV and plopped both tired and hungry kids in the back to change their diapers while Hubby tore our bag, cooler and stroller apart trying to find the car keys.

“I’m pretty sure I gave them to you!” he said. “Yes, you did… And I put them in the pouch of the cup holders in the stroller. That’s where I always put them…. So I always know where they are….” I zinged back while wiping hot, sticky bums. “Well they aren’t in there!”

I forced myself not to panic. I put the kids in their car seats and gave them a drink and the last of our snacks while I looked around to see if maybe we had left them in the car. I couldn’t find them.

My memory replayed the incident from the train: “Excuse me! You dropped your sunglasses!” Oh no! We didn’t notice my sunglasses and phone falling out of the pouch. What if our car keys had fallen out too but we didn’t notice? The zoo was closed. The kids were loaded in the car. Hubby went back to see if he could retrace our steps and find our keys while I tore the car apart looking for them. I ripped apart the pouch on the stroller, my purse, the diaper bag, the cooler. I pulled it all out from the basket under the stroller but didn’t find them.

Hubby called me on my cellphone from inside the park “Hey! I am just at the admissions booth. Do you know who our train driver was?” Umm… Is this a trick question? Do you remember the chaos involved in boarding that train? Of course I don’t know who was driving the damn train. “Was it a man or a woman?” Oh…okay… That’s easier. It was a man! The incredible staff at the zoo were going to locate the train we were on to look for the keys while Hubby ran back to the train stop where we had boarded to see if they were still there .

At this point the kids were losing their minds. It was so hot and it was long past dinner time. I couldn’t turn the air conditioning on in the car because we didn’t have the damn keys. I opened all of the doors to try to let some of the breeze through and poured water on my hands then combed my fingers through their hair to try to cool them down. I was out of snacks. They had devoured everything we had brought with us. We were down to the very last bottle of water. “Where’s Daddy?” Mr. C asked over and over. “Drive the car, Mommy!” Miss M commanded. “I’m hungry!” You and be both, kiddo. I took them out of their car seats and let them climb all over the driver’s seat to distract them from their hunger, heat and fatigue. Mr. C laid his chest on the horn in a full body slam over and over finding it funnier and funnier every time while Miss M threw a fit because I wouldn’t turn the music on (because I didn’t have the damn keys!) They were both hungry and losing their minds because of it. My pregnant belly was starving too. There was nowhere close by to get food. Not without car keys and the ability to drive. Zoos aren’t typically located near plazas and grocery stores.

From the back of the parking lot where we were parked, I could see a food truck in the distance, up by the road. It was like I was seeing my own version of the mirage that dehydrated people see in the desert except that I was pretty sure it was real. I told the kids that we were getting food and once again, said a prayer, this time praying that the food truck took debit/credit because I had used up my cash on monkey food. Literally on monkey food.  Now my monkeys were hungry and I had no cash. Ironic.

I loaded both kids into the stroller and hoofed it across the gravel parking lot. Our stroller tires were flat but I didn’t care. A burger and some fries were in our future. Some cold drinks too. We made it all the way there only to discover that it had just closed. If there was still a staff member around I would have begged/bribed them for a bag of chips and a bottle of cold water. The food truck was empty. I pushed the kids (now crying because I had promised them French fries and then didn’t deliver) back to the car as I tried to decide what we were going to do if Hubby didn’t return with the keys in hand.

We had a spare car key at home. However our house was locked. My parents have a spare key but my dad was away and it was probably with him, on his key ring. If someone could get into our house and bring us that spare car key, we would be saved! I’m actually a little freaked out at how easy it would be to break into our house after taking the time to plan out a couple of options in my head for breaking into my own house.

The kids were crying because they were hungry and thirsty. (Note to Self: if ever a contestant on the reality show, Survivor, do NOT pick these two kids as your tribe mates. You will lose… and go batshit crazy.  They have been without snacks for approximately 25 minutes and they are losing their minds. Also, they do have water but they don’t want water. They want milk.  So they would rather be thirsty.  Serenity now.) Hubby was somewhere in the zoo looking for the keys with our train driver. His cellphone battery had died. The parking lot was now empty except for the odd lone cars that were eventually claimed by zoo employees wondering why the heck we were still tailgating in the parking lot and even more importantly, why no one was stopping that 2 year old boy from honking the horn in the driver’s seat. It’s survival, my friends. We are going to be stuck here forever. I can’t fight him anymore. I give up and I give in.

Naturally in times of desperation, I did what any grown woman would do and called my mommy. I explained that we were at the zoo and we were stuck here. I asked if she could check to see if she had our house key. She said she had all kinds of keys that weren’t labelled and would go over to see if any of them would work and if not, she would break in.

She was already 30 minutes away from the zoo so even if she did successfully smash a window and shimmy into our house, it would be at least a half hour before she got here with the spare key. The kids were not going to make it that long without dinner.

I was ready to abandon our car. It’s been good to us and has been a wonderful mom-mobile but at this point, I just wanted to get the hell out of here and never come back. I asked my mom if she could just come and get us. I would install the car seats in her vehicle and we would figure out the rest later. Right now, these kids needed to eat and be somewhere cool. She agreed and I am so thankful for her quick willingness to come to our rescue!

I tried calling Hubby’s phone again to tell him my new plan of abandoning our vehicle and calling it a day. No answer. I sat on the back of the car and sang songs to entertain the kids who were rolling around the back whining, kicking each other and oh yeah,…whining. In the middle of my own insanity-enduced hip hop/rap version of “Hickory Dickory Dock!”, I looked up to see Hubby walking towards us. Hallelujah!

I jumped off the car. “Did you find them?” No. I told him that my mom was on her way to rescue us so we could at least get the kids some food and could come back to get the car later. (And by later, I really meant never. I was ready for this day to end.) Hubby looked defeated, nodded and then took one last look through the stroller, the bags and the car before agreeing that we would just have to wait and see if someone turns the keys in to the Lost & Found.

I told the kids to get their shoes on because Nana was coming to rescue us and asked Hubby if he could fold the stroller up and pack it into the trunk for me. I hadn’t loaded it yet since the trunk had been our playground while stranded in the hot parking lot.

Hubby folded it up and when he did, “CLANG!” We heard the damn keys fall out. We both almost died and didn’t know whether to be overjoyed/relieved/pissed off or annoyed.

As it turned out, the keys were in the pouch of the cup holders and they had fallen out of the stroller when we boarded the train. But, when they fell out, they fell into the crease of the stroller’s sunshade….and were there the entire time.

“Let’s get the hell out of here!” Hubby said, tossing me the keys. I agreed, fired up the A/C and called my mom to tell her we were the biggest idiots on the planet while Hubby loaded the stroller. At this point my mom had just left her house and said she had grabbed bananas and crackers on her way out for our starving children. How awesome! While extremely grateful for to offer, we were going home.

And never, ever coming back…

Andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s adventures with 2 kids, 11 months apart and 1 on the way! “Crazy” is our middle name. If you liked this post, please subscribe or like my page on facebook to be the first to know about future posts. Thanks for reading! Xo

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2 thoughts on “Keyless & Foodless: Stranded at the Zoo

  1. Lola says:

    There has to be some kind of keyring that you can sinc up your phone to…. if not, let’s invent one! Sorry you had such a horrid day. But, thanks for the laughs…. been there….
    Lola Naylor

    Like

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