Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Pandemic girl

Day 16 of 31 at TWT!
"Ehhhh! I don't want it!" Rainbow Girl shakes her head vigorously, her smooth brown hair swirling around her head like a little hurricane. "I don't wanna go to the zoo!"

"You'll love it, Sweetie Pie!" I know she has no idea what I'm talking about, since she was only 11 months old the last time she was at the zoo for the Christmas lights of 2019, and we'd really only been a couple times before that. I figured we'd start going a lot more often during the spring of 2020... and well, we all know how that turned out. "We're going to see real animals!" I know this also means nothing to her. "Do you want to see a real brown bear, brown bear? Or a real elephant, like in the song?"

"I don't wanna see the animals!" She's in full, pouty refusal mode, and starts swiping her arms back and forth at me, not really hitting but letting me know she's kind of thinking about it. She negates every outfit I suggest. "No! Stay in 'jamas!" 

"You can't wear your pajamas to the zoo! We're going to ride in the stroller, outside! You love riding in the stroller!"

"I! DON'T! WANT! IT!" When you've spent half your life at home except for walks, bike rides, and the occasional hike at a metro park, new experiences are more daunting than fun, I guess.

I give up momentarily and let her run around in my room while I get ready. Luckily, she poops and we need to change her diaper, so I'm able to use that as an opportunity to slip her mostly-distracted self into some of the clothes she rejected earlier. "Look! Kitty cat socks! The kitty cats want to see the animals!" 

"I wanna wear my boot-shoes!" She's starting to warm up to the idea of going somewhere!

We videocall Husband (who's at an in-person work shift) during lunch, and by the end of the call, she's declaring, "I wanna go to the zoo!" It helps that her big sis is practically bouncing off the walls with excitement. 

I'd been avoiding the zoo because they only require masks of people 10 and older, and I've seen way too many pictures on social media of people not wearing masks there. (Not just people taking them off for pictures, but like random people in the background of the picture are also not wearing them.) And before Rainbow Girl turned 2, she couldn't wear a mask, and that really made me overly cautious. But both girls now wearing their masks so well, going to the outdoor exhibits while trying to stay away from people started to seem like more of a possibility. And with many local schools heading back to all-in, 5-days-a-week learning yesterday (don't even GET me started on that!), I figured attendance would be down. Plus, tomorrow's weather is supposed to be gorgeous, so maybe people would also wait to go then, instead of today's not-quite-miserable, barely-passable for spring, damp-chilly-cloudiness. When Sweetie's teacher emailed to say that live Meets were canceled because she's sick and there's only asynchronous work today, it seemed like the perfect chance to give it a try. 

When we walk up to the entrance, Rainbow Girl resumes her protest momentarily. "I don't want it! I don't want the zoo!" But by the time we chat with the ticket-taker (a former Spanish student of mine from ages ago - such a fun surprise!) and start walking up the path to the central lake, her curiosity gets the better of her. 

Legs straight out, arms tensed, little hands balled into fists. Finally, a little finger starts to point at the people and things around us. "What's that? ... That?... That?" Food carts, signs, other families, a bridge, music playing. "What's that? That?!" Across the bridge, the first exhibit: 4 huge Mexican wolves, walking and lounging around their yard. 

"Do you see the wolf-doggies?"

"Ehhhhh! I don't want that!!!" she exclaims one last time, waving her arms. But by the time we round the corner to the farm animals, she wants to get out of the stroller and see them. 

The zoo. What a change from learning about the world beyond our backyard through books, magazines, and videos.

We're going to have so much to (re)discover, little one. The world is so much bigger than you know, and I wish I could make these germs go away so you could see it all. 


  1. Oh, you take me back to having a two year old. You describe so well the physical gestures and the speech of a resistant little one- good writing! And I do buy your argument that this might be worse because of the limited opportunities, but I also know they can go full refusal otherwise as well.
    I also agree with you in still being cautious as our worlds do open up.
    I love your names , Rainbow Girl and Sweetie! And my favorite line is “Finally a little finger starts to point...”

  2. We haven't made it out to the zoo here in Houston, especially now that our governor has rolled back the mask mandate (eye roll). I often worry about our 19 month old and how few experiences we've been able to offer because of said germs. :( I'm so happy Rainbow Girl finally caved - here's to many more experiences!

  3. New experiences are just waiting for your little Rainbow Girl. What a delight to watch the transformation of resistance to pleasure.


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