They went about a hundred feet before Katy wanted to get out of the stroller. While Jacob looked away, Jill kneeled down to explain to Katy that she couldn’t walk. Katy loved to run really fast and then walk slowly. It was too hard for adults to keep up with her. And they didn’t want to irritate their new friend Jacob.
Jacob’s head jerked to Jill when she said his name. He made a puzzled face. When Jill looked up, he said, “Can I talk to you for a minute?”
“Sure. Katy, stay here.”
Jill’s stomach dropped. Even though she and Katy had been on their best behavior, Jacob was mad. Stepping away from the stroller, she racked her brain. What had she done?
“I wanted to say that I don’t mind keeping up with Katy. You don’t have to keep her in the stroller for me.”
“But she’ll get tired, and then we’ll have to carry her.”
“Of course. That’s what kids do. Do you mind keeping up with Katy?”
Jill looked up at Jacob and gulped. She wasn’t quite sure how to respond. She bit her lip and shook her head.
“Do you mind carrying Katy? Because I don’t mind carrying her.”
Jill shook her head. “You’re not mad?”
“Absolutely not. What would I be mad about?” Jacob shook his head slightly. “I have the special delight of going to the zoo with a kid. I’d be pretty stupid to be mad at a kid for being … a kid.”
Still biting her lip, Jill shrugged. Jacob smiled.
“Let’s free the hostage,” he said.
Jill unhooked Katy from the stroller.
“Why don’t you go to the elephants while I take this back to the car?”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah, I can be there and back in a few minutes,” Jacob said. “I’ll meet you there.”
Before Jill could respond, Jacob took the stroller and jogged through the zoo. The further away Jacob ran, the better Jill felt. Taking Katy’s hand, they skipped to the elephants. Katy’s delighted chatter at the elephant mommy and the elephant baby filled the air and Jill’s heart. Katy’s wonder helped Jill feel more grounded.
When Jacob returned, carrying a green balloon for Katy, Jill was happy to see him. They bonked heads trying to tie the balloon on Katy’s wrist. Jill laughed and he blushed. Before they could say, “I’m sorry,” Katy was off to see another animal.
After a quick stop at Monkey Island, Katy pointed her finger and ran to watch the penguins eat lunch. Katy’s mind, and conversation, bounced from topic to topic. She was fascinated with Bear Mountain, but the apes scared her a little bit. She stood against the Plexiglas barrier while an ape stood to watch her. Backing away from the Plexiglas and the ape, Katy cried for the ape behind the glass. While Jill comforted her soft hearted daughter, Jacob bought tickets for the train. The laughing ride on the train cured all ape-related problems.
Stepping off the train, Katy said, “I have to go potty, Mommy.”
And Jill froze.
Katy took forever in the bathroom. She did everything BUT go potty. Every public restroom trip was at least a fifteen-minute procedure. When Jill and Katy were alone, Jill marveled at the songs, conversation and general observations Katy made in the restroom.
But when Trevor was with them?
He was furious. “Why doesn’t she just go?” or “What kind of a mother are you to let her take so long?” She tried to explain that there were always other mothers camped out waiting for their three- or four-year-olds. But Trevor insisted Katy was manipulating Jill to purposely disrupt his life.
More than once, he left them. Jill and Katy had to take the bus home from the zoo or the Rockies game. When they got home, Jill would lock Katy in her room so Katy wouldn’t have to witness Trevor scream at Jill.
The retelling of Denver Cereal, Volume 1 continues tomorrow…
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