Sunday, July 19, 2009

We're Going To The Zoo (How About You?)

Today Connor and I donned our trusty pith helmets and met up with a friend and her foster daughter at the Point Defiance Zoo.

Connor loves the zoo, but he and I have a conflict of interest as far as what we want to see. I love the gorillas, the large cats, the birds of prey, the elephants . . . basically seeing and interacting with all of the animals.

Connor loves the bubbles in the aquarium. Not the fish-- the bubbles. Also the way the surface of the water reflects the light when you're standing underneath it. He could easily watch the changing patterns for hours. He loves the ultraviolet displays, too. And there's a tent set up in the kid's play area where you can feed the goats. He could care less about the goats-- he wants to look at the way the sun shines through the fabric of the tent. About the only animals he's really in love with are dogs and ponies, neither of which currently reside at the zoo. If we're trying to look at anything else, he'll become bored extremely quickly and start yanking his hearing aids out.

Forget animals: he's totally, completely enamored with light in all of its myriad forms and shades. The first thing he does when we wheel into a building is check out the ceiling, and if there's a particularly interesting light fixture up there he'll actually applaud. So I was happy to find a compromise between my fascination with the animals and his obsession with light: the jellyfish tanks.

One of the tanks features glowing jellyfish, circling endlessly in mesmerizing patterns. Swarms of these jellyfish must be the lava lamps of the underwater world. If you watch them for too long, you fall into a sort of trance-like state. And then there were tiny fragile-looking jellies in another tank who were all but invisible until they floated through a beam of light, and then they'd flare up in a bright white spurt of iridescence. They looked like they were outlined in delicate traceries of glowing lace.

Beautiful fascinating creatures combined with light? A perfect combination for me and Connor. After my friend and her daughter left the zoo we went back to the tanks and sat for close to half an hour. I alternated between watching the jellyfish and watching my son's face, alight with its own glow, and left the zoo feeling strangely relaxed. Jellyfish as therapy: who would have thought?

While I couldn't get any good pictures of the glowing jellyfish, due rather ironically to poor lighting conditions, I did get some shots of the other animals. Because you can't go to the zoo without taking approximately 8,000 photos of meerkats. I love meerkats. Also that owl was ridiculously adorable.



Julia O'C said...

That owl *is* ridiculously adorable! I love how owls always look offended. It makes me want to check to see if my deodorant has stopped working.

Also adorable? You and Connor in pith helmets!

Ashley's Mom said...

Great pictures! I love meerkats also, and always take way more pictures than anyone who doesn't work for National Geographic would need :)

Julia said...

Interesting about Connor's obsession with light and color. I bet he would love stained glass! Or a Light-Brite. The little plastic pegs in a traditional Light-Brite might be a bit fiddly for him, but I wonder if they make versions for younger kids with bigger pegs. We went to the Children's Museum of Manhattan last week (Ben *loved* it), and they had a giant version of a Light-Brite, perfect for toddlers. Or maybe you should just get Connor a lava lamp. Disco ball would be fun, but might be a bit much if he has sensory processing issues. (70's kitsch as therapy -- who knew?)

wherever HE leads we'll go said...

Sounds like a pretty great day. I do love the hats!

We love the zoo. Emily hasn't really caught on yet - the only animal she seems to notice is the giraffe. She just stares wide-eyed. It is pretty adorable. So right now, the zoo is more for us than her, but hopefully that will change as she gets older.

Colleen said...

LOL who needs to see animals when you can enjoy the bubbles and sunshine!

leah said...

I love the pics (though I thought the owl was on a disembodied hand for a second- then I realized it was a glove and you simply can't see the arm attaching)!

I second the lava lamp idea- I bet Connor would love one to look at in his room! I wonder if there is a way to configure a remote switch for one of those (so he can turn it on and off when he wants)?

Connor's Mom said...

Julia O'C: That comment made me laugh-- that's a perfect description of owls.

Ashley's Mom: Also the penguins. You can never have too many pictures of penguins. Also I love the sign for them. Think Dick Van Dyke dancing with them in Mary Poppins-- that's pretty much it exactly. Only without the weird pants.

Julia: We actually have a disco ball for him. He loves it.

wherever HE leads: Well, giraffes are very interesting animals. They look sort of like they're cobbled up of all of the leftover bits God didn't need for anything else. Emily's got good taste.

Colleen: That's his theory exactly.

leah: Lava lamps are fun, but I'd be a little worried about having one in Connor's room. Don't those things heat up quite a bit? Not sure they're child safe. Maybe we'll stick with his disco ball.


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