Bunch of Animals August 06 2011

I grew up with three brothers -- so that makes us four siblings, and we were all born with a 5 year 3 month window. Like nesting dolls. So growing up, that meant natural selection was in full effect at our house. Or better explained, if you weren't the first one to get to the box of Fruity Pebbles you were going to miss out because whoever got to it first would eat the whole box --just 'cos. Survival of the fittest. Of course, if another sibling wanted to challenge the pecking order there was always fighting that broke out -- and I don't mean whiny arguing. I mean duking it out, hair pulling, nail digging, chasing around the house, rolling on the floor kind of fights. As soon as my mom heard us or saw us fighting, she always said the same thing: Bola de animales! Stop fighting! And we would, eventually. Looking back I think two things -- how did she raise four kids that close in age and how are we all fairly normal people?

I was thinking of my mom's favorite expression of "bola de animales" yesterday I took the toddler K to the National Zoo -- all by herself, no sibling competition. And the actual bola de animales we were going to see, well, these actually behave, probably because they don't have to fight for their food or shelter or even love, as even their mating is planned sometimes. The husband is sort of against zoos for that reason -- he hates the captivity part. But how else is the toddler supposed to learn about animals? I mean, when she saw a squirrel she said oso because she has no size perspective.

So yes, we're really into animals at our house right now, and the toddler K has most of the basic ones down. The only thing is I switch between English and Spanish all the time, which I guess isn't so bad because she knows most of them by their English and Spanish name. I cheat sometimes when I read books and will just say the name in Spanish. Like in Brown Bear book, I tend to say all the animal names in Spanish instead, but otherwise read the book in English. The toddler is also into making animal sounds, also in English and Spanish. As in guau guau to imitate a dog, instead of woof or ruff. Miau and meow are cognates, right? And a horsie neighs in English, but what does it do in Spanish? She hasn't learned kikiriki or cock-a-doodle-doo yet because we've actually never shown her a rooster in real life -- which is weird because growing up I distinctly remember hearing them in the morning when I slept at my guela's house -- not on a farm, the neighbor had them. Small town. They were sooooo ahead of the free-range and backyard chicken trend.

At the zoo, we got to see the pandas chowing down on their bamboo, and the sloth bear reminded me that I needed to cut the toddler's nails. The lions were out and playful. But of course, my favorite animals are the farm animals. Pandas are cute and all, but we're not allowed to pet the pandas like we can do with the burros and chivos in the Kids' Farm. I was actually trying to teach the toddler the sound the chivo made, and all I could think of were the poor chivos tied to a tree outside my grandmother's that were about to become cabrito guisado after a few hours. It was a total Clarice Starling moment, but instead of lambs I hear chivos. **shudder** Well, at least these zoo chivos have their own little playground.

Moving on to happy thoughts, as expected the burros made our day. Look at how cute and sweet. No wonder we've immortalized them in pinatas and entrusted them as keepers of the candy!