Early last week, I loaded both kids, a stroller, a diaper bag, three lunches and boatloads of sunscreen into the car by 8:30 AM. This alone is a feat worth mentioning.
I told the kids I had a surprise for them.
Unfortunately, I wasn't prepared for the ramifications of this action. Surprises and four year olds, I discovered, go together about as well as oil and water. Tyson anxiously asked every three minutes what the surprise was. EVERY. THREE. MINUTES. "What's the surprise, Mommy?" " Can you tell me the surprise. Mommy?" "Mom, what's our surprise?"
Considering he wakes at 6:30, that's roughly 50 questions fielded before 9 AM.
Did I mention I had ran out of coffee the day before?
By the time we pulled into the Minnesota Zoo parking lot, I was exhausted from the car packing and the question answering and the coffee lacking, but these expressions more than made up for it.
Two and four might not be the best ages for surprises, but they are definitely the best ages for a trip to the zoo.
Despite packing the stroller, they ran hand in hand from exhibit to exhibit. Mila happily waved to the animals, pointed out the baby monkeys and talked animatedly to the penguin that followed her hand around. Tyson excitedly told me about the lion fish we saw, bravely reached in to pet the stingrays in the touch pond and ran like crazy through the splash pad.
When little legs got tired, we rode the tractor to the farm to pet the goats. Without fear, they both sat down to brush their coarse hair. We found the cows and talked about all of products we use that cows make.
We had a picnic lunch in the shade near a small tree trunk obstacle course. When the kids were done eating they climbed and jumped from trunk to stump while I happily texted my Mom that this was my favorite stay-at-home mom day to date.
And it was. It's harder than I like to admit to make days like these-days where we're all happy and content. Days where the effort to create something special is worth the effort to create something special. Days when we all go to bed exhausted but so, so happy.
I liked this surprise. I can only hope they liked it as much as me.