Penguin, Owl and I had many adventures last week as Nana and Grandpa Bird were in town and good times always ensue when we all get together. On Friday, we all went to the zoo. Since it was a school day, it was pleasantly low on attendance. At first, Penguin was making a stink about going there, stating that he “hated the zoo” and insisting we go elsewhere. I informed him that we could go someplace else if he made a recommendation, but otherwise, the zoo it was. When we got into the car, he shouted out that he wanted to go to the play land of a certain fast food place. As we were driving there, it suddenly dawned on him that the zoo is the home of his favorite treat ever, Dippin’ Dots. Once he realized those were awaiting his mouth, he quickly changed his mind and decided the zoo was the best place ever. Since I know him incredibly well, and since it was nearing 11am, which is a reasonable time for lunch, I just planned to hit the café area first since he would obsessively mention the DDs and refuse to participate in any zoo activities until they hit his tongue. Sure enough, once we entered the gates of the zoo, the DD whine began and the “I simply won’t have fun and neither will you now” scowl came across his face. Little did he know that I had plans to eat first all along, so I inwardly savored a little “Ha-ha, you didn’t pull one over on me” moment. Outwardly, I led the charge to the café, where we dined on pizza and DDs.

That out of the way, we were able to enjoy the rest of the time at the zoo. I was wearing Owl on my back in my Ergo carrier most of the time so that he could see everything from my level. However, once we got to the children’s play zoo, I let him run wild. He and Penguin moved about the place, starting in (and quickly leaving) the crafts area, then moving to the two separate areas that interested them most. Owl really likes animals and he was taken by the room housing the household zoo animals: a bunny, a cat, some parakeets, etc. Penguin can appreciate an animal, but his thing is plants. He really loves to water plants. There is a greenhouse in the children’s zoo and visitors are allowed to take water bottles and mist all the plants. He loves to water plants at home, rake leaves and help with planting, so it really does seem to be an interest of his.  So Owen spent his time wandering around all the little animals with Nana, Penguin spent his time misting plants with Grandpa and I split my time between the two. There is also a section where little visitors can pretend to be zoo attendants and Penguin honed in on that spot right away because it involved faux mopping and sweeping of an exhibit. Penguin has an odd mix of liking to tidy but then not wanting to pick up his toys. I have the more expected mix of liking to make a mess and hating to tidy. Owl likes to place errant things in containers, but then also likes to scatter things about.  It makes living with us supremely stressful for fastidious Papa Bird.

On Saturday, we went to a model train show. I surprise myself by enjoying these every time I go. I like things in the miniature, so they appeal to me for that reason. I also like how excited Penguin gets by his interest in trains. Plus, it’s kind of fun to see grown adults so caught up in what are essentially little toys. But people do put a lot of effort into their displays and I can appreciate the satisfaction one must feel in working on a good, artistic project. Our tendency at train shows is to wander around for a while and then hit up the snack bar. This time, we only had a small snack of popcorn, as I was prepping for the next part of our adventure: eating at an oasis over the expressway! It’s amazing how much fun you can have doing the most simple things if you think of them as an exciting adventure. “OMG, we are going to eat above a road and trucks are going to drive under us! And there are, like, 10 food establishments to choose from!” I say this with all seriousness. Do this some time and you’ll be surprised how enjoyable an otherwise simple outing or activity becomes. Treat everything as novel and your brain really allows you to see it that way. I ended up eating a delicious, but probably bad for me, Chinese meal – as did Nana and Owl – and Penguin had pizza. Again. Grandpa had gyros.  For dessert, Penguin chewed on gumball bits from one of those massive gumball machines. Yes, gumball bits. Yes, I broke them up for him and then made him spit out the pieces on a plate so I could keep track of them. Yes, I am a little mentally ill.

On Sunday, we went to a surprisingly tasty pancake breakfast in the nearby nature center. Since the lot was filled, we had to park in the overflow lot and then take a bus to the event. I wasn’t sure if Penguin would be into that, but why was I worried? “I love buses!” he shouted and then seemed to be more excited about the whole to-do. The bus ride was followed up by a wagon ride to the actual site of the pancake breakfast. We were all happy, smiling giggles until we came to a screeching halt at the end of the pancake line. Not more than a few moments later, Penguin began complaining of his hunger. Thankfully, between me, Nana and Grandpa, we were able to walk him around enough to pass fairly large chunks of time. Owl was asleep in the Ergo, so there was no worrying about him. After waiting about an hour and a half, we finally hit the point that we could collect our plates and this – after all that time – was the point in which my mind snapped a little bit. I was seriously fine before then, allowing the whines and the moans and the fussing to just roll off my back. And then, when the end was seriously nigh and I could see the glistening syrup cascading over pancake just steps in front of me, I had enough. Penguin had one final request, sweet and innocuous in nature, and I just wanted to run away screaming. He’s a wonderful fellow, and an insistent and demanding fellow, and, I must confess, I can hit a breaking point. He wanted to give his brother a kiss and a hug. I wanted to get my damn pancakes and sit down. I had Owl in one arm, plates in the other. I just wanted to get my food and sit down and eat, now tired and hungry myself at this point. Penguin began crying rather loudly and insisting that he hug and kiss his brother. I was trying to keep it together, willing myself to stay calm and just ignore and address once we all sat down. I got our food, spilling the syrup all over my dress in the process, and handed Owl to Grandpa, who leaned down so that Penguin could give Owl his hug and kiss. As we sat down, about 2 hours into the experience now, Penguin started crying because he wanted orange juice RIGHT NOW. And that, my friends, is when the levy that contains my frustration broke and I angrily muttered “Jesus Christ, Penguin!” and slid his plate over to him like a surly waitress that had just been called a bitch by an unruly customer.  Happy pancake time, y’all!

I calmed down pretty quickly and apologized to Penguin and everyone else for losing my temper and getting snippy. I explained to Penguin that I lost my temper and that was not nice, but that he was being an “attitude bully” and that was not nice of him either. I asked him if we should do a special apology to one another and he said yes. So we did. Penguin and I gave each other a kiss and a hug and we moved on, greatly enjoying our pancakes.

I don’t like losing my temper. I control it quite a bit. In fact, most often I am not feeling frustrated or temper-filled at all. But it happens and I’ve been liking the way we’ve been able to deal with things as of late. We both (mostly me) talk about what we did to make emotions run so high and then apologize to each other. Feelings are feelings, emotions are emotions and we all have them, no matter how controlled we try to be in a moment. I hope that I am modeling that we can express that side of ourselves and – even if it gets a bit out of control – we can always reclaim the moment and move on.