After my 2 year old had chanted NO BUS for the eighteenth time I realised that maybe it was time to bail. But we were on the bus. And as a mum who generally has always respected her daughter’s wishes, it was hard to force her to sit down and tell her that it was going to be fantastic – for the eighteenth time in reply.
We just had to get moving. I had lured Miss 2 into the Safari Bus queue with a cookie, and kept her there with the promise of more in my pocket. (I literally held the cookie in front of her nose and walked.) Now, as she was squeezing out of her seat belt, and screaming, my grand idea of neutralising her, and the 6 month old on my lap by trapping them in a moving vehicle for 35 minutes was rapidly fading. As with many a grand idea, I found myself singing under my breath “seemed like a good idea, at the time”.
That’s right, I came to the Werribee Zoo with two kids under two on a thirty degree day because, you know, that’s what parents do sometimes when they’re desperate to get out of the house, and want a long enough drive that their kids might sleep.
When we are finally moving, it feels like a lifetime before we see anything. I wonder if I’ve picked the wrong side of the bus.
Over the hill into the savannah scene and suddenly there are four Giraffes ridiculously close to our window – my daughter is hypnotised. “Thank you Jesus” I mutter under my breath, possibly heard by the guy across the aisle who had called me Super Mum earlier (I decided more in sympathy than admiration).
We circle some zebra and rhinos and Miss 2 is refusing to remain seated. I break the rules, by breaking open a rice cracker pack. I unwrap it under my seat and pass it to her like a black market transaction. “QUICK” I whisper, “EAT IT QUICKLY.” She takes one bite and goes to throw it out the window. Toddlers.
I learn that the collective noun for zebra is a ‘dazzle’ from the occasionally hilarious man narrating our tour. I wonder if he can see us through the mounted cameras at the front of the carriage – my daughter is standing up again but I have one arm wrapped around her. I decide that I could legitimately plead ignorance about not knowing the rules as she had done a runner from the queue when he was listing them all over the loud speaker.
When the bus finally returns to the Safari Station, my daughter is somehow still safe inside the vehicle, and my 6 month old is asleep on my breast, sweaty, but happy. After escaping the bus, which upon reflection she agreed she had enjoyed, Miss 2 seeks refuge in a coin operated safari car and refuses to move.
“I’m driving!” she yells, to which I reply, “yeah, me crazy.” The lady at the adjacent café table definitely hears that, laughing into her coffee, and I let my daughter drive for as long as she likes.