We ate a lot of food on Satuday with the Higa side of our family. Then, we did the same thing with the Pascua side of the family on Sunday. Between those two family feasts, however, Lynnette, Madison and I went on a twilight tour at the Honolulu Zoo.
We met up with Lynnette’s friends and their children for something resembling a field trip featuring zoo animals but also sadly a bunch of mosquitoes.
Madison loves going on trips like this where she can play with children closer to her own age. Though she very rarely complains openly about the twins, Lynnette and I have noticed that Mad appears burned out by the constant attention that twins or random twin-related quests require. I suppose the irony is that she never stops being the big sister. By nature or timing, she is almost always the oldest child present at our get-togethers with out friends and family, much the same was I was. To watch her with our friends’ children makes me feel like maybe I don’t give her enough credit for being a fantastic girl in her own right.
I always see her as a 5 or 6 year old. But she’s as old now as I was when I started playing baseball. She’s not a baby, a toddler. She’s not a teenager or even a tween. But she’s not my little girl and if I’m being honest, that’s very, very difficult for me to accept. Whenever she defies me or makes incredibly boneheaded decisions, I wonder if anything I did mattered. But then I see the way she is with younger kids and I know some of it must have.
A bird took a dump on Madison’s hand and that I didn’t see it happen killed me. Lynnette was already in the process of cleaning her up when I got my phone out, so this is the best shot I have: Madison inspecting the back of her hand for any remnants of bird feces. “Was that your first time?” I asked her. “Yeah,” she said. “And?” I asked. “It was gross, but not too bad,” I said. “Well, you’re in the club, now,” I said, reminding her that a bird dropped a bomb on me at the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens. “What about mom?” Mad asked. Lynnette’s actually in the club, too. Back in 2003, some nasty pigeon nailed Lynnette, forcing her to purchase a new top to wear at Ala Moana where she was meeting up with me and some of my co-workers after the ACCE conference. Madison joining the club was a truly wonderful event. I can’t wait until Cole and Avery join. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they joined at the same time? How crazy would that be? Why do I care so much about birds annihilating our family with doots? I don’t know. I never thought I would. And those two statements sum up my entire adult life.
A few minutes into our stop at the lion exhibit, the female lion attacked the male lion out of nowhere. She just ran at him, jumped, and bit into his mane. It elicited startled gasps from people in our group, but Seconds later, the male lion was licking the female lion in the back. Once it became clear the attack wasn’t serious, a kind of giggling filtered through the adults in tour group, like we were all thinking the same thing. “Scratch my back,” Lynnette said, mimicking our own version of this very series of events. What followed was one of the coolest and funniest things I’ve ever seen: adults rampantly speculating on the behavior of animals based on their own experiences in romantic relationships.
“Why did she do that?” a woman said.
“Probably for something he did two weeks ago,” her husband said.
“She can’t be letting him get all the attention!” another woman said.
“But he’s the king, though,” her husband said.
She made the pfffftttt noise!
Lynnette and her friend Christine had a pretended conversation in which they both took on lower male voices and apologized to each other profusely. Maybe it was a female fantasy? I can’t possibly hold it against them because one of my deepest fantasies is living in a world where Lynnette and Madison apologize when they’re wrong.
Our tour group left right as the lions began engaging in some kind of … athletic exercises as pictured above. I was one of the last few people taking pictures at the glass along with a mother and her young daughter. The woman had positioned her daughter in front of the exhibit to catch the lions in the background. I think she snapped one picture before lowering her phone and saying “We should go. This is about to get… too educational,” I chuckled and she laughed back.
This was the first time in my many visits to the zoo that I saw the lions. Personally, it was breathtaking. I admitted to one of our tour guides that I had given up hope of ever seeing them, and often wondered if there were lions there at all. Yet here they were, in all their glory. As the light ebbed in the sky, the male lion’s roar seemed to intensify. I could hear it from all over the zoo. I was in awe. This, too, is my adult life. Since I have become a parent, I have done so many things I never imagined, and even more since the twins were born. That’s life’s trick. It lulls you into this routine that has a monotonous flavor of the mundane. But then once in a while – and always by surprise – it throws you things that completely blow you away. Mine are named Madison, Cole, and Avery.