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ParentsSeptember 18, 2018

I Survived: the zoo with my kids


In suburban Wellington, a mother of two boys is slowly losing her mind. In the first episode of ‘I Survived…’, Emily Writes tells us about the time she survived going to the zoo – barely.

“What would you do if you were confronted with death? What gives someone the strength to survive? Is it luck, chance, instinct? In a stripped-down, simple-yet-cinematic interview style, ‘I Survived…’ allows survivors to explain – in their own words – how they overcame unbelievable circumstances—offering insight into what got them through the experience that changed their lives forever. ‘I Survived…’ is storytelling at its most dramatic, most basic and most honest.”

Emily – in your own words, please

Well, so my oldest, he’s three, said he wanted to go to the zoo and I thought sure, we can do that. What’s the harm? People go to the zoo all the time and they don’t have nervous breakdowns or anything.

So it took about three hours for the kids to get their shoes on and then we were on our way. I’d packed six outfits, 14 nappies, 12 pairs of socks, two packets of wipes, and two lunchboxes full of nutritious processed foods from Reduced to Clear that were only slightly past their used-by date. I had the buggy, of course, plus a carrier and two blankets.

Of course somehow in the time that it took to get from the car to the entrance to the zoo, it stopped raining and the sun came out. My children have skin so white they’re practically translucent, and in the eight seconds they weren’t under shade, they started to turn pink. I went to grab their hats and OF COURSE I DIDN’T HAVE HATS IN MY FUCKING 180kg NAPPY BAG JESWAY CRAY (I am trying to stop saying ‘Jesus Christ’ because my youngest repeats it and I look like the mother I am).

Driving home was not an option so I figured I’d have to buy them hats that I couldn’t afford. $40 later they had hats on. The baby kept his hat on for point five of a second before throwing it into a puddle.

I paid a small deposit on a house to get into the zoo. We were here. We’d arrived.

We decided to go to the kiwi house first and I passed the capybaras. They were sleeping and like, I haven’t slept in so long that I was just really jealous you know?

I know Emily, I know. You’ve spent many years blogging about how tired you are I think we know.

Well. That’s very rude and also fair.

OK so we went to the kiwi house and I told the boys to be as quiet as a mouse. So as soon as we got in there my youngest started to squeal as loud as he could and my oldest was like BE QUIET YOU GON WAKE DAT KIWI!

And I was trying to get out as fast as possible while saying SHH SHHH SHHH SHHH JUST SHHHH and the buggy caught on the path and got stuck. As I was trying to move it my youngest let out an ear-piercing scream and I saw this kiwi just kind of stop moving and I was like IS IT HAVING A STROKE? DID MY CHILD GIVE A KIWI A STROKE?

I threw a blanket over my youngest and picked up the buggy and carried it out while I dragged at my youngest who despite asking for the buggy was now refusing to ever go near a buggy ever again.

I did not meet the eyes of the zookeeper heading into the Kiwi house.

My oldest immediately ran away and I began chasing him. We raced past the capybara who were still fucking sleeping.

I eventually caught up to my oldest just as my youngest pulled himself from the buggy and bolted. Sweating and carrying the 180kg nappy bag while pushing the buggy with the broken wheel I found them both soaking wet.

I stripped down my oldest and changed him. I got to my youngest and just as I pulled his sopping nappy off he made a run for it. Naked. My oldest thought it was hilarious and started trying to take his clothes off.

“KEEP YOUR FFFFFFF KEEP YOUR CLOTHES ON” I shrieked in a voice that seemed to signal to the nearby monkeys (inaccurately I might add) that I was on heat.

I grabbed one leg of the baby and hoisted him up holding him like a prize fish as I caught my breath.

“FARKEN ELL!” My three year old yelled in earshot of a retirement village group.

Exhausted I bought an ice cream each for the children. “Is that enough today?” I implored them.

I checked the time – we had been there 20 minutes.

Where is your hat? I asked – suddenly realising they were both hatless.

“I gave it to a pelicam”

I searched the fridge for wine but there was none. Only overpriced Pepsi and L&P.

‘Come on, we’re going to fucking enjoy this’, I told myself.

“Come on kids! Let’s go see the giraffe!” I said with all of the cheer I could muster.

Once at the giraffe enclosure, a woman bent down to my son’s height. “Aren’t they magical?” she told my son.

‘Yesm dey are magesrcal,” he smiled.

Just as I reflected on how polite my son was he said:

“An they smell like shit aye?”


I hurtled down the hill with the buggy dragging my oldest.

As we got into the Australian part of the zoo he froze – he knew his nemesis was here. The emu.

“GEDDA WAY!” he yelled at the birds who quite frankly looked baked and didn’t care at all about him.

“GEDDA WAY NOW!” He yelled again.

“Don’t yell honey, you’ll piss them off,” I told him.

That doesn’t sound like good parenting.

Well, screw you. I don’t know shit about emu but I don’t trust them either. Admit it – they look like jerks. Are you the narrator for ‘I Survived’ or ‘Deadly60’?

I survived.

Yeah see. You don’t know shit. Now back to my story.

“HAERE ATU!” He yelled at the 420 emus.

Some time ago he decided that if an animal ignores him in English it must mean they only speak Māori.

The stoned emu ignored them as my youngest started walking aggressively toward the kangaroo. I remembered that video of the kangaroo kicking that child in the head so I ran as fast as I possibly could.

Who even needs free-range kangaroos? Why do we even have them?

And then it hit me:

Why am I at the zoo when I could just be at home?

I asked the kids if they were having fun.

“NO,” they said in unison.

I packed them both into the buggy and headed for the gate.

The capybaras were still sleeping.

Emily Writes is the editor of The Spinoff Parents. Her book Rants in the Dark is out now. Buy it here. Her second book Is it Bedtime Yet? is out in August. Follow her on Facebook here.

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