Trauma at the Zoo

Yesterday we got a last minute invite from a friend to go to the zoo. We had plans to go to storytime, but who passes up a free pass to the zoo? I really should stop being so cheap and mooching off other people’s memberships. Then I could stop paying the $8 parking fee each time as well. Anywho, we met them in the morning and found the Cincinnati Zoo in full bloom. It might not be Zoo Blooms time yet, but it must be close. The tulips were gorgeous in every color imaginable, and the purple hyacinth were marvelous among other blooms and blossoms.

We checked out birds, monkeys and bears. The chilly weather had the animals all active and excited making for much more interesting viewing. We stopped for lunch, then more animals and then… the incident. The oldest boy wanted to ride the carousel, and hey, who doesn’t like a good carousel ride? My child, apparently.

It seemed to take several minutes before the ride got moving, and in that time Pumpkin started whining a bit. I thought, “It’s after lunch, he’s tired and impatient, he’ll be fine once we get moving and the fun begins.” Wrong. So wrong. The ride started, the music played, the horse began to rise up and he flipped out. My 16-month old son was screaming bloody murder and crying tears the size of giant raindrops. There was no consoling him. I was right next to him, half holding him, singing, talking, you name it. Then his “girlfriend” (17 months) who is not entirely sure of these things either joined in the meltdown. All us two moms could do was look at each other, shrug, laugh and wait for the ride of terror to stop. Other parents chuckled, and I could hear at least one other kid having their own nervous breakdown. Whaddaya gonna do? It happens.

Cincinnati Zoo- April 12th, 2007

The sad part was the one mom in front of us who kept looking back and glaring at me and Pumpkin. I’m not one for starting drama with random strangers and had my hands full anyway, but after the fact it irritated me. I’m so glad your six/seven/eight? year-old is perfect and adept at riding the carousel, but clearly my son is small and scared. There’s a first time for everything, and how could I anticipate that such a tame, sweet, little ride could traumatize my son in this way? As made clear by my terrible singing, I’m trying to soothe him, but it’s proving pointless. All we can do is laugh and get through another 60 seconds of this, so give me a break. Unless they have a little angel, every parent has had to suffer through some kind of public meltdown or tantrum. I’m not expecting anyone to come to my rescue or stop the carousel, but the dirty looks were just crude and unnecessary.

For those of you who have a kid who’s new to carousels, let this serve as your warning. They may love it, or you may be in for 90-180 seconds of pure hell. What has been the biggest public trauma you’ve experienced with your child and how did you handle it?

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