Achoo at the Zoo

I learned two lessons on Thursday. That was the day I was one of the parent chaperones for my son’s third grade field trip to the zoo. It was a beautiful day spent totally outdoors, capped off with a picnic lunch. I got to spend time with my dear friend who was also one of the parent chaperones so we teamed up to be in charge of four energetic, enthusiastic third grade boys.

So, what were the two lessons?

Lesson number one: when you are with young boys and you go to the zoo during caterpillar season, you should expect the fascination to shift from watching zebras, tigers and flamingos to trying to spot and TOUCH every single unfortunate caterpillar who finds itself crawling, dangling or resting within the reach of little hands. Everyone had to hold and pet the confused caterpillars. There were as many ooohs and aaahs over the caterpillars as any of the wild animals.

If your son asks to go to the zoo again on Saturday (yes, my son did ask just two days after the field trip), you don’t have to spend the time and money to go back there. Just find a caterpillar for your son to hold in the backyard. Trust me, holding a caterpillar is on the same scale as watching a tiger snoozing  thirty feet away. For boys, “hands on” means everything.

caterpillar hunting

Searching for wild caterpillars

Lesson number two: Always take your allergy medicine when you’re supposed to. What were you thinking, when you signed up for this zoo trip? Didn’t you realize you’d be outdoors all day? It wasn’t until the next morning when I work up with red, swollen eyes and sinus cavities that looked as if I’d stuffed apples in my cheeks, did I remember that I hadn’t take my allergy medication.

Today, Jack plans on hunting in the backyard with his binoculars around his neck, in search of the wild Tennessee caterpillar. Me? Today you’ll find me within arm’s reach of a box of tissues at all times. I’ve taken my Zyrtec, blown my nose for the 800th time and watched Gracie marvel at how I can sneeze six times in a row.

If you’re headed to the Nashville Zoo, the caterpillar exhibit starts in the parking lot.

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