Frequent readers may recall that my 9-year-old asked for a cat for Christmas. He did not get a cat. In lieu of one, he got two overnight experiences with me. We went to NYC over President's Day weekend, and this Saturday night, we did an overnight excursion at the Philadelphia Zoo.
This was somewhat of a mixed experience. The cool parts were getting to walk around the zoo at night, which is when I saw these peacocks (see photo) up in the tree. Apparently, these are the descendants of John Penn's peacocks (John Penn being a near descendant of William Penn). We also enjoyed getting a guided tour in the morning, when the animals were quite active and the zoo was empty. My 9-year-old and I had some nice conversations over dinner and breakfast and as we wandered back through the zoo to the car we got to see the two sloth bears playfully fighting, which was not something either of us had seen before.
The less cool part: I think the zoo sells too many tickets to their overnight events. There were a cool 120 of us packed into the Tree House, sleeping on our sleeping bags on the floor. I had planned on the sleeping bag and a somewhat less-than-restful night, but I assumed there would be many family groups. There were not. It was just the two of us and then half a dozen scout troops of various sorts. So there didn't seem to be quite enough adults to keep the kids under control (even if I'm sure every group met the zoo's required ratio). Plus, cycling us all in and out of the restaurant, and then out to the various bathrooms around the zoo late at night (because there were only two in the Tree House itself) took forever. At least I had my Kindle app; I got through a quarter of Song of the Lark. I would have gotten through more but my 9-year-old wanted to look at my phone at various points too.
Anyway, when I asked my kid what he liked and didn't like afterward, the things he said he liked were things we see at the zoo other times we come (e.g. the reptile house). What he didn't like? "Sleeping over." I think if we had been with a scout troop it might have been different, and maybe one of our kids will do it in the future with a scout troop. But as for the 9-year-old (who loves zoology) I think we may come back to the zoo some early morning again when we can see the animals moving and have the place mostly to ourselves. BUT get to sleep in our own beds. The older I get, the more important that gets.
In other news: Other happenings this weekend: The Pinewood Derby for the 7-year-old's Cub Scout troop, two birthday parties, and a Sunday night date night. The last is often easier to pull off than a Saturday night date night, so we're doing what we can.