Tuesday, 13 December 2011
Bungle in the Jungle
There are some trips that you take with your children that just stand out in your mind - magical, wonderful moments that you all spend together when the sun appears to have been shining continually, the kids have all been happy, and you are with the ones you love doing something fascinating that is enjoyed by all. To be honest, those moments are normally few and far between. I mean, let's face it, there is usually at least one person (normally small, but not always) who says "I want to go to a park/McDonald's/swimming/etc. rather" at some stage of a trip. However, today was one of those amazing times that you never want to forget.
We made a journey out to our local wildlife sanctuary, a habitat for all manner of local animals located a long way down a scenic (read very twisty, narrow, and hilly) road. The scenery was breathtaking the whole way there, and for once I had come anticipating every need of the kids - snacks, water, juice, wet wipes, hats, etc. and so I did not have to try to persuade anyone to "wait until we get there". The sanctuary itself is set in magnificent park-like grounds, and I found myself remarking more than a few times to the Sweetpea how well it was laid out. The little ones went running off along the paths, discovering different animals in natural settings hidden like jewels amongst the thickets. Their chirping voices were lively with excitement and irrepressible joy, floating back to where the Sweetpea and I walked hand in hand. Then suddenly they all fell silent.
Rounding the corner, we saw what had arrested their attention. A huge native pig, surrounded by his concubines, was trawling through his pen, looking disdainfully for offerings of food from the hushed crowd of kids that regarded him just as balefully back. "Look, Mama," said Sam into the oppressive silence, "that pig has titties as well as a willy." There were a few titters from the adults gathered there. Somewhat jokingly, I replied "Perhaps it is a hermaphrodite pig, darling." I should have known better than to introduce such a concept into a conversation. Questions pelted me as I tried to explain the concept of "hermaphrodite" to three-year-olds. After a lot of strenuous talking, they were finally satisfied, and we started off again.
We sat in the lee of the mountain beside a rushing river for morning tea, and were soon surrounded by peacocks in full spring plumage looking for our scraps. "What are those?" the boys asked, never having seen peacocks before. I explained again, and the boys sat mesmerised by their beautiful plumage.
"Their feathers are iridescent aren't they?" said Paddy, to the wonder of all the adults around. The Sweetpea noticed my ill-disguised pride and pulled me aside. "Sure," he whispered to me, "it's fine when they use words like 'iridescent' in conversation, but what are you going to do when they start talking about 'hermaphrodite'?" Hmmm - I hate to admit it, but he has a point.