26 July 2013

"Dappled and Drowsy and Ready to Sleep"

Isaac decided a few years ago that he is going to own a zoo when he grows up.  And Matt and I are going to work there.  This idea has stuck, though it has morphed a little -- now he will own the zoo and Matt and I will work there while Isaac is an absentee-owner off playing pro-football.  I am not sure how to realistically support his football dreams, but I am all for him following the zookeeper path.

We have spent a lot of time at zoos in the past 8 years.  We have a nice zoological park less than an hour away and in town there is an impressive smaller zoo that we like to visit.  On vacation last month we went to the Prospect Park Zoo and the New York Aquarium.  I am glad to provide Isaac with experiences to support his interest.  There are worse goals in life than to take care of animals, and most zoos are involved in conservation and environmental education efforts -- endeavors which I believe are important.

On my end, I have decided that if I am going to be working at a zoo, shoveling animal poop and creating enrichment toys, then I want to work with the sloths.  I kind of like these funny looking animals and their outlook on life, though not as much as Kristen Bell does.  Isaac likes them, too, so I am confident he will include them in his exhibits.  We saw a sloth when we were in Costa Rica a few summers ago, though we were looking through a magnifying scope at the sloth sleeping in a tree a hundred feet or so above us.  But the experience of seeing this exotic, elusive animal, even from so great a distance, has stuck with Isaac.

At book fair last spring, there was a book that can only be described as adorable that Isaac picked out.  It is adorable because of the subject matter -- baby sloths.  A Little Book of Sloths by Lucy Cooke chronicles the adventures at the Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica where baby sloths lounge around, play and cuddle.  Reading this book meets your cuteness quota for about two years.  There is not much factual information about sloths in the book.  The author and photographer is more focused on showing the animals' personalities than explaining their biology or habitat needs.  But for a kid (or adult) who is fascinated by this deceptively lazy animal, this book provides beautiful and entertaining images.

I can't look at a sloth or read a description of their "laziness" without also thinking of Eric Carle's book "Slowly, Slowly, Slowly," Said the Sloth.  In this story, jungle animals passing by the sloth, who is hanging out in his tree, ask him why he is so lazy.  His response refutes their assumption and offers up a smorgasbord of fun, rich vocabulary words.  He is not lazy -- he simply likes to take his time and do things slowly.

Isaac has taken to describing himself as a sloth, mainly because Matt and I frequently express our frustration about his reaction time to our requests, usually ones that he would prefer to pretend not to hear.  But it is summer and it is time for us all to take a lesson from a sloth.  We are not being lazy -- we are just choosing to do things, slowly, slowly, slowly.  As Simon and Garfunkle remind us, "Slow down, you move too fast."

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