So this post is kind of cheating because everyone knows this book, right? But it’s such a perfect tie-in to our trip to the zoo…
It was a favourite when I was a child, a story that never left me, full of the possibilities of being disobedient and dreaming and going somewhere else in your mind where you actually had a say… and then (of course) getting lonely in your huff-and-puff I’m always right state of mind and returning home again to forgiveness and warmth and love. (Max is punished for “mischief of one kind and another” and sent to bed without his supper; however, when he returns to “his very own room” after visiting the land of the wild things he finds his “supper waiting for him … and it was still hot”). The last line appears all by itself on the last page, without any illustration to keep it company, but the line itself is crucial, because the supper has to be hot to show that Max hasn’t been away that long, and also to show that he is cared for and loved. And isn’t that the whole point of a bedtime story anyway, to show your children that they are cared for and loved?
Anyway, on Tuesday, for Owen’s birthday, my parents took us to Parc Safari. We were all convinced that Owen would love the animals but (as usual) underestimated how much huge, furry, strange creatures can frighten a toddler. He was OK with the animals in the distance. He liked the elephants, and was excited by the monkeys and lions (all at a clear remove). He did not much like the animals that got any closer. The thing about Parc Safari is that you drive right through the animals and can feed them out of your car window. My dad tried to feed an ostrich but was worried that the ostrich would peck his fingers off (one had snapped at my mother 3 minutes earlier) and so kind of threw the food in its general direction. Well, the ostrich didn’t understand that there was food on the ground. To it, a car clearly meant food, so the bird tried to stick its head in the window to get something out of my dad. My dad rolled up his window to keep it away from him, but the ostrich started pecking at Owen’s window as if to say “feed me, feed me!”
Owen was not impressed. “No big bird. No big bird. Away! Away!”
He was spooked by a lot of other animals, too, especially when we opened the minivan door so he could see better. The more glass and steel between Owen and the animals, the better, he thought… Especially when a rhinoceros peed. “Stinky stinky diapers!” said Owen.
Unlike Max, Owen was unable to charm the wild creatures with a magic trick. Most of what he seemed to feel was fear and wonder (a fear and wonder that’s present in the book, of course). He seemed relieved when we got through our “safari.”
After we finished looking at animals, Owen took a dip in the wading pool and when he got out his Nana gave him the rest of her ice cream cone.
… and it was still cold.