Today was a throwback to the kind of breaks Madison and I used to pull off before we became the world’s finest dad/big sister infant care combo.
The zoo was the original plan. We got into the parking lot a little before ten and we left it a little after ten. We found parking right out in front of the aquarium. “Do you want to go to the aquarium or walk to the zoo?” I asked Madison. “Aquarium,” she said. Good call. But, if you’ve been to the Waikiki Aquarium then you know: there’s not a whole lot to it. I learned that Madison’s learned a whole lot about marine wildlife. She talked my ear off. We exited the aquarium in a little under an hour. “So…” I began. “What?” Mad asked. “You wanna walk to the zoo anyway?” I asked. “Yeah!” she said.
We take Mad’s picture next to this statue every time we visit the zoo. It’s supposed to mark her growth, but I have no idea where those other pictures are. Still, I feel like just looking at this picture says so much. The sunglasses, the shoes with laces, actually carrying her own water. My girl’s growing up! Oh yeah, Madison and I were pretty ready to make the walk to the zoo, past the workout equipment, past the pavilion, across the street, etc. Getting back was another story altogether, though (foreshadowing).
I spent nearly $20 on lunch for the two of us. I want to call it extortion, but it’s simply a monopoly, but then it’s just really laziness since I didn’t pack us lunch. I paid almost $10 for a burger and fries (but no drink!) and if you’re going to charge me that much, the burger better be pretty OK – which it was. The fries were decent and I just had to tell myself that we were on vacation. Like 14 times. Madison’s kids meal was also a scam but came with UNLIMITED SOFT DRINK REFILLS. When the woman at the counter alerted me to this, I did not buy a drink for myself. “What did you get, dad?” Madison asked as I returned to the table with the drink. “Sprite?” she asked. “Well, we’re sharing,” I said. “COKE?!” she shouted. “Yeah,” I said. “Yes!” she growled. I don’t let her have Coke at home. It is fruit of the forbidden tree as far as she’s concerned. I refilled the tiny cup 4 times during our meal. “You better go refill that,” Madison said before we left the dining area. I did. We went back two more times before leaving.
Of course since we’re in the middle of the only zoo on the island, Madison was jazzed to hit up the playground. “So we walked all the way here and paid the admission just so you can go to the playground?” I asked. She smiled. “But it has monkey bars, dad!” she protested. “I know you want me to get better at them!” she continued. The second they’re old enough to use the stuff you teach them against you, just save yourself the heartache and get rid of them.
Honestly, though, I didn’t mind because the playground is adjacent to the tiger exhibit, and I love tigers. Sadly, the lone visible tiger lay in the back of the cage, gently patting the gate. It was kind of funny, to be honest. The tiger just rested prone, then every once in a while, it would jerk its head back, raise its paw, then whack the gate. Was it a complaint? Was it hungry and trying to ring the bell? Was it hot? Well, another of the tigers made its way to the front of the cage later, so everyone won. Except maybe that depressed tiger in the back.
If I had to guess, I’d say that the highlights of Mad’s trip to the zoo (outside of filling her belly with Coke) were her interactions with a loose peacock and a group of penguins.
“That’s a male, dad,” Madison said as we first spotted the bird. “Oh, how do you know?” I asked. “The males have the pretty feathers,” she said. I didn’t ask her why because I didn’t want to initiate the birds-and-the-bees talk right there, in the middle of the zoo, without Lynnette. The peacock ended up being the most cooperative animal in the zoo. It posed for pictures solo and with Madison. It even got into a staring contest with Madison. The peacock looked away first, probably because it could recognize the caffeine coursing through my daughter’s body.
Madison also got lucky with the penguins who were intent on putting on a show for everyone. She had to wait a little while, but eventually she made her way up to the glass wall where the penguins dove, swam, and tapped the glass. Madison extended her hand toward the penguin and it appeared to swim toward it. Soon after these experiences, Madison and I got into a pretty specific conversation about the peacock and penguin Pokemon as featured in the games.
We left the zoo under the oppression of a peak sun. Madison lagged behind me on the way back to the car. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I have side pain,” she said. “It’s all that Coke!” I said. She nodded and wailed. We actually made a stop in Kapiolani park on our way back. We sat under the shade of a tall tree. We were there for two minutes before a number of birds loudly took up residence in the limbs of the tree above us. “We better get moving,” Madison said.
Now, the problem with our outing was my forgetfulness. I remember everything except to throw our slippers into the car for our beach jaunt. We went to the ABC Store to see about picking up some new slippers. That was extortion. So I hatched a new plan. We would walk down to Kaimana in our shoes, then take them off. We’d simply walk barefoot back to the car. The grass would make such a trek easy, I thought. I didn’t take into account the thorny grass. The concrete was pretty hot also. Ahem. My bad. “This is ridiculous!” “This was a horrible idea!” “Don’t ever make me do this again!” and “Next time just pack our slippers, dad!” were only some of the things Madison shouted at me during our walk back to the car. She was exaggerating, but she wasn’t wrong. Still, I feel like she’d tell you it worked out.
I asked Lynnette for a foot massage. She looked at my toenails and scolded me. “Get the nail clipper!” she said. I did. She made it through one toenail. “Go get a pedicure, already!” she said. “For real?” I asked. In our home, pedicures are a sacred luxury. Like summer, they are rare and fleeting and oh, my God, so sweet. “Take Madison and go get pedicures,” Lynnette said. “You sure?” I asked. “Finish your day together,” she said. So we did.
I have magical legs from the knees down right now. Madison chose the brightest shade of pink nail polish for her toes. The stylist working with her asked if she wanted gold flakes over the pink. Madison didn’t hesitate. She’s been walking gingerly ever since. Because of the nail polish, and not the thorny grass and hot asphalt. I promise.