She knew it was an unfair question the moment she opened her mouth. But it snuck out, accidentally or on purpose.
“Promise me you’ll take care of your sister.”
The urgency in her own voice was almost unrecognizable and she realized it was the first time she had admitted out loud that something was really wrong. Of course she and Grant had talked about their fears for their oldest daughter before, but only to each other and always at the wrong time keeping the discussion halted: a moment of panic after Chloe melted down again or in the early morning hours unable to sleep with the gnawing sensation that their child would end up helpless and alone, a prisoner of her own mind.
“Who will take care of her when we’re gone?” would repeat on infinite loop until Margot finally fell asleep.
Today’s zoo trip was to the Stone Zoo in Stoneham. The facility is managed by the same organization as Franklin Park and one membership gets us into both. It’s a funny little zoo and I ended up liking it a lot. It’s on the small side and set across from a residential neighborhood on one end and what I assume to be a reservoir on the other. We all agreed it would be amusing to look out our living room window and see a snow leopard across the street or Mexican wolves – both of which faced homes.
The animal enclosures are set throughout a very wooded area with streams and wooden walkways. One section is entitled “Treasures of the Sierra Madre” and consists of animal enclosures with an “old timey” gold mine aesthetic. Picture a jaguar in an abandoned mining camp and lizards resting in the store display windows of a deserted mining town. It’s totally weird and a little rundown, but charming all the same.
With one of the kids sick and school vacation coming to a close we decided to go to the Franklin Park Zoo in Dorchester. The germs would be free range, if not the animals. It’s been well over a decade since I was last at Franklin Park and while it looks better than it did back then, I realize I’ve been spoiled with some pretty amazing zoos these past years: Denver, San Francisco, Oakland, and Fort Worth (though the latter was a little over branded for me with the Cheetah exhibit sponsored by Cheetos).
While his roar was fantastic, the lion today looked a bit weathered and may or may not have had a cataract (or two). And the gorillas? I don’t remember them looking so sad or having such a strong urge to rescue them. They looked dirty, displaced, and depressed. I have a love/hate relationship with zoos on a good day, but the gorillas I saw on the west coast did not behave like these. The ones in Denver had a some anger issues and a certain western swagger, but otherwise seemed very well cared for. Perhaps it was just the setting and I caught them on a sleepy day, but today’s gorilla enclosure did not leave a favorable impression. Nor did the smell.
I have a really bad memory. This wasn’t always the case, but as I get older it gets worse and worse. Of course I remember all the horrible things that have happened to me over the years. That stuff never seems to go away except for maybe secondary school memories. I have nicely blocked out most, if not all of, junior high and high school.
Before the advent of Facebook this wasn’t an issue, but now I struggle to remember who people are that try to “friend” me on occasion or pop up in a friend’s feed. How did I know them? Did we get along? Were they nice to me or was I nice to them? Do they remember me from my awkward wallflower phase or my naughty townie phase? It’s always weird to hear other people describe me from those earlier years because they are describing someone I don’t really know. I’ve either repressed that much of my adolescence or they they have mistaken me for someone else completely.
I recently discovered that I had blocked out a major memory: my answer to the question, “What do you want to do when you grow up?” When I started writing on a whim last year I had forgotten that my answer to that question was to write. How do you forget something so fundamental you may ask? I don’t know, but I did. If only I had that much success in forgetting my first boyfriend.
My husband and I had a very grown up Saturday and took in a lecture by Ang Lee and James Schamus at Wellesley College and then walked around campus for a few hours. Why is it that you appreciate things more when you no longer have them? I loved the campus when I was a student there (in my late 20s), but I didn’t realize just how special it was until it was over. How beautiful is it? Let’s put it this way, the sight of it this past weekend may almost make the remaining 10 years of monthly student loan payments a little less painful.
- Inspiring People: Ang Lee & James Schamus (musingsofanorientalgypsy.wordpress.com)
We decided to bring the kids to Salem today to check out the town pre-Halloween. It was a little too festive; the crowds made it difficult to see its character and its characters. I think we’ll have to make a return trip in a month that’s not October. I’m eager to head back some afternoon and just spend a day taking photos.
Yesterday called for a short hike on the Woodchuck trail and Garrison loop in Great Brook Farm State Park. Even with the light rain, it was a beautiful and easy hike. We parked near the canoe launch and walked across the road to the Woodchuck trailhead to find some historical spots for my daughter’s school project located along the trail.
After passing the site of an old dam, our first historic stop was the remains of some kind of Colonial stone garrison. Fairly close by was an Indian grinding stone, that appears to have been intentionally destroyed. Looking at the stone you can see that holes were drilled down its length and at a depth almost reaching its bottom, splitting it in half and to its base. Finally we ended up at the site of the old grist mill.
Not a bad 60 minutes.
~ My kids don’t care for Sesame Street, but I’m nostalgic for that theme song. And while I’m more of a Jimmy Kimmel fan than Jimmy Fallon, this particular clip made me smile. The Roots and muppets playing simple instruments (and rapping!)? What’s not to like?
~ My in-laws were visiting from Colorado this past weekend and a trip to Concord to see Emerson’s Old Manse and the surrounding national park was in order. The highlight of the trip? A stroll through and around the garden, planted by Henry David Thoreau for Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne who were renting the house at the time.
Recently my 5-year-old told me she no longer believed in flying reindeer. The conversation went something like this:
E, “Reindeers can’t fly.”
Me, “Well, maybe not all reindeer.”
E, “Mama, you know no deer can fly.”
Me, trying to think of something, “Okay, but maybe Santa uses some magic on just his reindeer to make them fly.”
E, “There’s no such thing as magic.”
I retold this story on Facebook last week and the comments surprised me a bit. Mostly people wanted my youngest daughter to know that “magic was real,” but one of them caught me off guard.
“[It's] sad when childhood ends so early.”
The comment actually made me angry and continues to make me angry. My kids are in every sense children. Why does the disbelief of something, something that is very clearly a lie told to most children, mean childhood is over? Does believing in fairy tales or mythical creatures make kids any more authentically “childlike?” Is a 5 year old that no longer believes in Santa Claus jaded or is she just beginning to learn about the world? And if the latter, why is that a bad thing?