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Hi, School. Hi, Squirrel.

Yesterday, I popped over to our neighborhood high school to finish the registration process for Sam. As I parked, I realized how different it felt to do it for the third time. When I registered Aidan, I literally felt nauseated as I walked to the building, noting boys with beards and F-bombs flying. How would my firstborn survive four years in such a scary place, with tall hormonal people? The building symbolized the last stop before flying the nest and I was about to willingly sign papers stating I wanted her there, to do just that.

I wasn’t ready for her to be in high school because she had just completed Pre-K at Kids of the Kingdom Preschool, like, two days before.

And although it feels like Sam just completed Pre-K at Kids of the Kingdom Preschool, high school feels much less like a daunting, frightening stew of fuzzy faces, college nights, bad drivers, and hormones. I didn’t feel nervous. I’m over it because I have seen it isn’t as bad as I feared. He didn’t have school, so he went with me. I asked if he was nervous and he looked at me like I was nuts. No way. It’s just a school.


Later in the morning, we went to the zoo. The older kids weren’t thrilled about going. I told them how when I was a kid, we went once every two or three years and it was a highlight of our visits to Denver. Maybe it was special because we hardly went? Now, it’s not any more exotic than going to a grocery store in a different neighborhood. It’s the same place, but has a slightly different floor plan. You don’t get all excited because the bread is along the right wall instead of the left. It’s the same zoo, but today, the polar bear is sleeping behind a different rock.

I knew they would have fun once we got there, and they did. It was chilly, so the animals were more active than usual. We went into Bird World and Tropical Discovery. One of the best things is watching my little guys watching animals. Ollie shrieked at little black monkeys with long tails. He pointed and talked to colorful fish and swimming turtles. Teddy exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!” when he spotted a sea anemone in a tank, smothered in a dozen clownfish. These are things we don’t see in Colorado.

But we see squirrels, daily. Hourly. You can’t look outside without spotting the fabulously-tailed rats scampering along our back fence or in a tree, teasing our dogs. They are about as uniquely special as a Big Mac.

But that didn’t stop Teddy from becoming fired up at the sight of squirrels bounding all over zoo grounds. He pointed them out as if they were as wondrous as an elephant, as majestic as a lion. In fact, we were in the giraffe house only feet away from four towering monoliths of spotted hair and dinner plate-sized eyes when he wandered away. He stood at a long, narrow window and looked outside onto the south lawn. “A squirrel!” he screamed.

My husband and I looked at each other and at the giraffes, amazed. It seems like there should be some sort of idiom about not seeing the giraffes because of the squirrels.

Maybe we need to move to a place where giraffes forage in our backyard and have showdowns with our dogs. They’d eat our Christmas lights and plums. And when we visit the zoo, we will lose our minds when we see them.


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