Thursday, September 20, 2012

I am a zookeeper

Kids being kids, the game of 'pretend' seems to be an ongoing event that brings us into the world of princesses and army guys, professional sports figures, jungles, restaurants, and pirate ships.  All from the comforts of home.  Or the car.  Or the aisles of Target as I attempt to run errands on the way home from a long day of work.

Recently, the game that's dominated the world of 'pretend' transforms my sweet little children into a variety of animals.  They range from the domesticated dog or cat to the ferocious shark and extinct t-rex.  Today, on the way home, the decision to play 'zoo' was made, and soon the animal assignments began.  The easiest choice for Raegan was the obvious giraffe.  Hemming and hawing permeated from the back seat when Brynn was asked what animal she'd be.  She began with a butterfly, but then Gavin reminded her that's what she wants to be when she grows up (!), so she should choose something new.  The list of options included a tiger, a lion, a polar bear, and a monkey.  Somehow, she settled on an elephant.  Gavin, who typically loves gorillas, sharks, dinosaurs, snakes (and other animals very opposed to mom's views of 'awesome animals'), chose to be a squirrel.  I pointed out the irony that all the other animals he loves would make a squirrel into a one-bite meal...but he didn't care, a squirrel he loves, and a squirrel he shall be.  At least for today ;)
The older two chattered along about the 'rules' of pretend.  Randy and I always find humor in the set up stages of pretend.  They spend so much time debating the technicalities and 'what if's', that it seems more like a job than a game.  As I drove home, I tuned out the rules and thought about connection between the kids' alternate egos and the actual animal behaviors and mannerisms

Gavin, the squirrel.  Skittish, cautious, always busy seeking out something to do (or eat).  Quick moving, warms up to people when he feels it benefits him (food, attention, etc).  Makes nests to keep warm, does not hibernate (Gav's definitely an early riser!).  Quirky mannerisms that make them intriguing, but hard to pinpoint his mood.  Secretly, pretty fiesty...pretty bad a**.

Brynn, the elephant.  Social, loyal, seeks relationships/attention from those who surround her.  Intuitive and intelligent, the elephant (and Brynn) are known to deal with concrete situations in a non-schematic manner.  Problem solver, goes with the flow of life, loves to play and have fun.  Both elephants and Brynn exhibit a wide range of feelings, including griefmimicry, altruismcompassion, art, play, cooperation, self-awareness, and memory.  A brut force, will stampede and run you to the ground (she wears me down mentally nearly every day).  Anyone who knows Brynn well can see many parallels.

And then there's Raegan.  The poor girl has been associated with a giraffe since before she was born, however the influx of giraffes that surround her on a daily basis has been a positive learning experience, and, as we're discovering, an ironic correlation the more we learn about the spotted giant.

The other day, Gavin was sick, so I stayed home from work.  Randy sat with him while I took the girls to preschool, and when I came home (coffee in hand, thanks to the 4 solid hours of screaming courtesy of Raegan the night before), I found the boys engrossed in a science show.  We  flipped a few channels and found a show on National Geographic entitled "Inside Nature's Giants: The Giraffe".  The scientists on the show were discussing how the tallest animal on earth has adapted over many years to overcome the physical challenges of an abnormally long neck.  We only caught the last 20 minutes, (although it's on again Sunday so we've set the DVR), but it's so amazing to hear some of the key aspects of a giraffe's persona and relate them to our sweet baby girl.  Allow me to highlight just a few...

--Showing signs of dominance by swinging their long necks and using their heads as 'weapons' of sorts.  (Many  fat lips, bumped heads, and random injuries as Raegan catapults herself across the couch to land on her brother/sister/parents.  Additionally, long arms (as opposed to necks) used to smash, smack, smear, or smoosh anything and everything in her path as she sees fit).

--Legs that are disproportional to the body but serve as a way to help them as they keep up stride for stride with their parents (siblings).  Ok, we know she's going to have long legs with her super tall mom and dad, but I wouldn't necessary say she's disproportional.  I will however say that she's got the idea of how to keep up with mom, dad, brother, and sister down pat.  Gone are the days of my cuddly baby who watches Gav and B play, observing their every move.  Sure, she still observes, but usually it's from the bird's eye view of the dining table (her favorite place to try and *perch*), or right in the midst of the rough and tumble of brother/sister interactions.  While she might still have some growing to do to catch up to her daddy's long strides, she sure as heck tries her best to shuffle her way right along with him.

--These animals are spaced far apart from each other within their herds and are largely independent, transient animals that do not develop a particularly strong sense of loyalty to an individual herd.  Umm...hello?!  This girl is the master of schmoozing whomever she needs in order to get what she wants, and then she's on her way.  Lil miss independent is absolutely a love bug, but she isn't partial to one particular member of the family.  She gets along with all of us (when it's convenient for her!)

--And, perhaps the most interesting fact we learned while watching was that giraffes rarely sleep.  They don't want to spend time lowered down onto the ground, as it makes them vulnerable to their predators, therefore, they'll typically only lower to the ground for small pockets of time, and the majority of their 'resting' occurs while standing.  If you've lived in our house for the past nearly 18 months (or, spoken to me on any random day during said time period), you'd know fact alone seals the deal.  Randy and I are the proud parents to a boy, a girl, and a giraffe, disguised as a sweet and adorable baby girl.

I officially am a zookeeper.

Gavin, my super squirrel...meek and quiet on the outside... feisty and loyal on the inside

Brynn, my multi-intelligent and creative elephant.  A gentle giant.

My sweet baby giraffe...eternal adoration,  unique personality traits

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