Smack Down At The Zoo

I love our local zoo.  It’s a great place to spend the day with kids. They have 435 species – ferocious and scary animals of every kind imaginable. But you will find nothing in the zoo more frightening than (cue shrieking sound) Tiffany, Professional Mother of Three.

The last time that Sean and I took in the zoo together happened to be the same day that (shrieking) Tiffany, Professional Mother of Three was there too. I first spotted her as Sean and I walked towards the entrance of the zoo. As we approached the ticket line, I noticed that she was wearing perfectly pressed crisp white Docker shorts, sensible yet stylish white sandals and a matching navy blue sweater set. With the sweater draped perfectly about her shoulders. Of course. Never mind that it was 93 degrees outside. Each of her three perfectly behaved children were dressed in matching white shorts and navy blue tops, the little girl with a matching headband. Perhaps they had just come from a JCPenney catalogue photo shoot. Or maybe they were going sailing later. Or maybe… MAYBE they were going back to (shrieking) Stepford!

I looked down at my tank top, blue jean shorts and flip flops and felt good that I didn’t have a coffee stain on me anywhere. That I could see. As we walked past TPMO3, with her perfectly dressed brood, she leaned over and said, “What a cute little boy! Did you know he has on two different shoes?” “Yes,” I lied with a straight face. I looked at Sean and no, the shoes were not an EXACT match, but they were close. They were both brown and they were both sandals. “He was very insistent about that!” I laughed. “Kids! What are you gonna do?” And I shrugged my shoulders. “I hear some kids do that!” she said cheerfully. SOME kids?? And then winked. Winked! Lucky for her, the only weapon I had readily available was a well worn flip flop which I was not willing to defile by using in a manner for which it was not intended. Unless she winked again. Then all bets were off.

One would think that given the size of the Ft. Worth Zoo that one probably wouldn’t bump into the same person more than once. At least that was my prayer. When we ran into her several hours later, she still looked as though she had just come from the spa while Sean and I looked as though we had just been pulled out of a commercial dryer. We had stopped to play in the sandbox and we had also bought a blue Icee drink, which we were both wearing.

We were looking at the horses in the area of the zoo that features all things domestic livestock, when TPMO3 came up behind me and squealed “Hi again! I’m TiffffanEEE!” She thrust her hand towards me in a manner that suggested she had practiced in the mirror. I thrust out my sandy blue hand in response. She took one look and slipped her hands into the pockets of her crisp white Dockers. “There’s that cute little boy with the two different shoes again!” she cooed as her children stood robotically still behind her.

Sean was standing on the second rail of a wooden fence to get a good look at the horses. “Oh be careful Sweetie!” she called to Sean. “I don’t want you to fall-all!” she sang. I was waiting for her to sing the second verse: “unlike your irresponsible negligent muh-thurr.” I failed to see her unrelenting interest in me unless she were looking for a project, someone she could lift up out of the sandy blue depths of haphazzard apparel and into the realm of clean, matching and pulled together.

“He’s fine,” I said to her after unhinging my jaw. “I let him climb on a ladder at home all the time.” Why oh why would I share this information with someone who probably has CPS on her speed dial? When I mentioned the ladder, her expression was one that you might wear if you had just discovered that your husband of twelve years was a female.

“No really,” I continued, “He’s pretty athletic and has a good sense of balance.” I added. Why did I feel the need to defend myself to this woman who was probably a good ten years younger than me? “Besides, if he falls, it’s not THAT far and I doubt that he would be seriously injured or that the horse would actually, you know, kill him!” STOP TALKING STOP TALKING NOW the voice inside my head screamed.

While I blathered on and on about my how horses almost never kill children, Sean had wandered off and I happened to catch sight of him out of the corner of my eye. He was bending down on all fours and was licking a grate covering a storm drain.

The look of horror on her face was priceless — as though she’d never seen anyone licking a storm drain. She abruptly gathered up her matching children and hurried off towards the Herpetarium. I swore I heard her instruct them to run, but maybe she said something about fun. I couldn’t really tell.

I called after her, “Tiff! Let’s get together for a play date! Call me!” No I didn’t really say that. I would have lobbed my flip flop at her though, but I’m not that good of an aim and she was moving pretty fast.

32 thoughts on “Smack Down At The Zoo

  1. We went through a phase last year, that was kinda fun, really. The other parents teased that they knew who had dressed my daughter each day by looking at her feet. If the shoes matched, they’d playfully accuse me of being no fun! I miss them a lot since moving. No Tiff’s there!


  2. I love the Fort Worth zoo too, we were just over there the other day.

    Oh my gosh, I laughed so hard i had tears rolling down my cheeks. My 2nd born is always wearing something on the wrong foot or inside out. I wonder if her kids were robots? hmmm…


  3. i LOVE your stories. i visit frequently and always enjoy yours and sean’s adventures!!!

    thanks for giving me a huge chuckle this morning. TPMO3 probably had nightmares! haha!


  4. I agree that you made a wise choice in not wasting a good shoe. Now if you had walked up and slapped her with it – that would be fine 😉


  5. Beautiful post. I’m laughing soooo hard!

    I don’t even have kids and I usually have some sort of food stains on me…I have no excuse.


  6. Wow! This is good for a laugh any day. You know her kids are going to grow up wishing they had you for a mom–someone who lets them get dirty all they want!


  7. OK, it’s time for your book. I hope that lots of moms with young children read your blog. If I had you when mine were little I wouldn’t have wasted so many years feeling like an idiot in a community of stepfords. You are so funny.


  8. Julie, the thought of Tiff “getting around” all over the US, like Carmen Sandiego or Waldo, cracks me up! And “benign neglect” – you should write a book to balance the selection of Kathryn Sansone style books at B&N.


  9. Oh ha ha, what a great post! As a dedicated practitioner of the “benign neglect” style of parenting, I could totally relate. And I’m also thinking that Tiffany sure gets around because didn’t I see her and her spotless 3 kids at the Ann Arbor District Library yesterday?


  10. I had a similar experience w/a g’parent in a grocery store:
    “Do you know her shoes are on the wrong feet?” Horror of horrors


    Long pause.
    Look of disbelief.

    “She changes them in the car. I figure if they start to bug her she’ll change them back.”

    It’s called creativity people…let your kids have some once in a while.
    I too was tempted to launch a flip flop in their general direction, but why waste a perfectly good shoe.


  11. That was hysterical! Oh can I relate. Today I went out to lunch with a friend. We live in Florida, which in July is hot and humid (I realize this is not news). We ate outside. Picture the limp, damp hair. Picture the quite drastic bedhead both of my darling girls are sporting, no longer disguised by their fluffy little baby locks. Horrors. This of course is compounded by the usual spilled food, intermittent 2 year old tantrums and 9 month old babbling and beating on table and mass of silverware now decorating the floor around our table. Ah, what fun to dine in a nice quiet tea room. What was I thinking?


  12. How FUNNY! Wed are half price days…you should definately go then. “Tiff” wouldn’t dare show up on half price day, might tarnish her image! LOL


  13. Why does Sean have multiple pairs of brown sandals? Because last year his Papa Ed introduced him to the joy of jumping in mud puddles. And he has also been know to toss a shoe or two from a moving vehicle. So we buy multiple pairs of cheap Wal-Mart sandals and don’t feel badly when one is lost or destroyed. Am I the only one with this philosophy?


  14. I was also wondering why Sean has two similar brown sandals that fit him right now.

    The Tiffany’s of the world make me feel like such a schlump. In the summer heat and humidity my hair does weird things and my face turns a lovely shade of reddish purple. And I sweat.

    We loved to take the boys to the Ft. Worth Zoo. I miss it. Have you taken Sean on the train outside the Zoo yet? It is a nice little ride through Trinity Park.


  15. I must have an evil streak in me. It seems to erupt whenever I have annoyed the gods and the planets are in perfect alignment because that’s when I meet people like “Tiff”. I don’t like like people like “Tiff”. Since there is very little chance that I will ever have them over to the house for dinner, I like to make sport of them.
    For example, if I was with my Grandson Jake and we were in a similar situation with the “Tiff” and the subject of ladders, horses and falling came up, I would make some comment that if he did fall, “well we’ve only had him a few years and we’re not that attached to him yet.”
    After this, we would walk away hand in hand and meld into the crowd, smug in the knowledge that “Tiff” would have something to talk about at supper.


  16. They did escape from Stepford! Wow!

    I love the dialogue in your head. I can’t count the times I’ve tried to tell myself to shut-up while blathering on all defensive like!


  17. Hello Antique mama,
    Some of my fondest memories are at the Fortworth zoo. I pretty much supported all the animals food when my kids were younger. I must say though after church a couple weeks ago we skipped on over to the zoo. We go to church in Fortworth as well. So I guess it isnt just for the little ones at all. We had more fun being grown up then we did in those earlier years!!! Be Blessed


  18. Well now you can include one more species at the zoo for the days that Tiffany and her brood are there.

    I’d pay to watch them.

    And I have very good aim.


  19. This is PRICELESS!!! Gotta love it! We lived in Fort Worth for the 1st 5 yrs after college, and we loved it! The zoo, the museums, the water park (you know, the one all concrete with water falls, so so cool) such good memories.

    Anyway, like you, I’m “easygoing” in the mothering style and as an added bonus, 100 pounds overweight. The horror I instill in the Tiffies of the world………..


  20. Now, my friends would say I’m a Tiffany, though I don’t “do it” nearly as well as you’ve described. I’m betting that while you were defending your child’s athletic prowess, she was hearing, “you are WAY too uptight and are crippling your kids — LIGHTEN UP already.”

    And why does Sean have more than one pair of brown sandals anyway? lol.


  21. Each week I meet up with the beautiful people, an affectionate name I’ve given all the perfect mostly blondes with fabulous highlights at a place it just wouldn’t be right to name (church). While my handsome children wear whatever they slept in to children’s church, and sometimes forget their shoes altogether (okay just a few times), the beautiful people’s children are dressed to the nines. And I am so jealous that these mothers figured out how to get their little girls to put the big bows and ribbons in their perfectly styled locks, when I can’t get my little girl to sit so I pull one brush stroke through her hair without a cheetah growl emerging from her delicate lungs.


  22. “as though she’d never seen anyone licking a storm drain.” Love it!

    The boy with two different shoes and a mom who lets him climb dangerously a foot above the ground, precariously close to tame zoo horses….it’s like the best part of Texas Town!

    Your writing is thoroughly enjoyable.


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