No, the animals were quite calm. And adorable.
Today was the day Jamie had been waiting for. He’d talked about it for weeks and when he woke up this morning, the first words out of his mouth were:
“Today is the SAFARI, Mama!!”
He had told me that he had chosen to be a cheetah and that cheetahs are the fastest mammals on land. They have spots and they purr. And the mask he made was very nice. He told me all these things and I was excited to see for myself if it was all true. So at 10:30 I boarded my plane (which also doubles as my 4Runner) and headed to Africa (which also happens to be Children’s House Montessori) where I joined MANY others for a safari.
How lucky were we that in the first 2 minutes we saw a pack of hyenas?
They came through the door yipping and yapping and ‘laughing.’ They stayed in character and it was ADORABLE.
This was our safari guide (aka Ms. Megan):
She dressed up. One thing I have learned about Ms. Megan is that she doesn’t do things half way. She doesn’t take the easy way out, she isn’t lazy and she certainly doesn’t take the ‘less messy,’ less-involved, quicker route. She does things creatively and takes her time. She makes sure the children take part in each step and know what they are creating instead of just telling them what to do and hurrying them along. They’ve been working on this for the last 2 full weeks and it definitely showed.
Ya know those moments when you feel a little overwhelmed but in a good way? You just feel like everything is just right and seeing your baby in a certain environment doing a certain thing makes you so emotional that you want to cry? That was me today. I didn’t cry, because I just don’t. (I mean, unless it’s a very emotion “16 and Pregnant”) I walked into their classroom and saw that they had transformed it into the African savannah.
There were trees and there was an African sunset.
There was a watering hole and a big rock. They didn’t miss a detail. But what really got me was when I saw Jamie crawl into the scene…he was a cheetah.
It made me so happy. There was honestly a time not too long ago (before he started at Children’s House) when I wasn’t sure how he’d do. When i really worried about him socializing and participating in groups. A year or 2 ago, he was very shy and preferred to be by himself rather than with other kids. He wasn’t friendly (I don’t mean that in a bad way, he just didn’t run around wanting to make new friends) and he didn’t talk to people very much. It’s changed. And seeing him in his cheetah costume purring and stalking and smiling, I wanted to cry. He loved every single minute of it and that’s something I never would have imagined he would have loved.
Every child was dressed up in a costume they made themselves complete with a mask and vest, hand painted. There were elephants and cheetahs and zebras and giraffes and hyenas and hippos and…..
Feasting on a zebra carcass. It was hilarious.
I just feel lucky to be blogging about all this because not too far into the safari, the hyenas returned….
…and they wanted a piece of that zebra. Which led to a lion vs. hyena standoff. Danger.
We (the tourists) got binoculars to get a closer look.
Luckily, the hyenas backed off. Our luck just didn’t stop because these animals happened to be talking animals who also taught us about themselves.
Cheetahs have lines on their faces and spots to protect them from the sun and for camouflage.
Hippos have pinkish oil that acts as sunscreen (I think I heard that right!).
Elephants use their trunks to keep themselves cool and for baths.
Only male lions have lots of hair around their faces.
Giraffes have black tongues.
We learned a lot.
I learned that Jamie will be just fine.
He will be more than just fine. He will be wonderful. And I cannot express how lucky I feel that he gets to learn in this environment. That he has teachers who love him and respect him and encourage him to be his own person and to be comfortable with who he is…but who also teach him that it’s really great to try new things.
He comes home happy from school each day. He tells me in his really high and fast voice (which I adore) every lesson he did and what they did outside. He asks me every day if he can please someday go to after care. That’s how much he loves it.
I’m excited to have Alice there next year with Jamie. I think she’d choose to be the lion. Or the hyena. I can picture her ‘yip yipping’ and staring down the competition to protect her meal.
I’m not a mushy, emotional person. Like, at all. But when it comes to other people taking care of my kids and having a very REAL role in educating and shaping them into kind and responsible little humans, I have hit the jackpot.
If you ever get the chance to go on an African safari, go. Cancel any plans you might have had for the day, don’t go to work, grab a friend, and go.
And don’t forget your binoculars.