“So, Cody what was your favorite animal?” Haley turned to face the backseat and her four-year-old son after a long, but fun day at Zoo Atlanta. This had been Cody’s first trip to the zoo and Haley was excited to hear what lasting impression it had left on her imaginative little boy.
“The bunny!” Cody exclaimed without a minute’s hesitation.
“Oh yes, the bunny. He was very cute, wasn’t he?” Haley replied automatically before realizing that she couldn’t in fact remember seeing a bunny in any part of the zoo. Turning to her husband Rick in the driver’s seat, Haley asked, “Babe, do you remember seeing a bunny exhibit today? Maybe at the petting zoo?”
Rick frowned and began biting at his lip (a sure sign he was concentrating on something). “Ya know, I think I pretty much remember everything we saw today and I can’t say that I remember seeing any bunnies,” Rick replied as he looked quizzically at his wife. “Maybe Cody is confused about one of the new animals he saw and is just calling it a bunny. See if you can get him to tell you what the ‘bunny’ looked like,” Rick encouraged.
Turning back to her son, Haley smiled and asked him, “Cody, can you tell mommy what color was the bunny?”
“The bunny was very cute. He was little and hopped and he had a white fluffy tail just like the Easter bunny. But he wasn’t white like the Easter bunny. He looked like Brutus kinda. Only a bunny Brutus,” the four-year-old replied very matter-of-factly before pushing a handful of sticky Cheerios in his mouth.
Brutus, the family dog, was a large brown lab mix and, needless to say, looked nothing like a bunny. The description added by Cody only further confused his parents as they wracked their brains in an attempt to correctly identify Cody’s favorite zoo animal (after all, Grandparents needed to know these things… future Christmases and birthdays were made on this kind of intel).
“Maybe if we ask him where he saw the bunny we could narrow it down. I still have the zoo map, we’ll just go through it until we figure this out. We will find this ‘bunny’,” Rick said as he made air-quotes for the last word. Rick was a bit of an overachiever.
Nodding her agreement, Haley turned once again to her little boy and asked, “Cody, do you remember where the bunny was?” Seeing his confusion at the question she continued, “Was the bunny by the elephants?”
“Yes!” Cody shouted happily and clapped his little hands.
“Well that was easier than I thought it would be. Ok, let’s see what was near the elephants that could resemble a bunny,” Haley said as she stared intently at the colorful zoo map.
“Mommy!” Cody yelled for the third time, but only now at a volume that forced his mother from her task.
“Yes, sweetie what is it?” She said half-listening (and still staring at the map).
“I saw the bunny by the elephants… and the lions, and the monkeys, and the sloth, and the kangaroos and the toucan and the bug house and he was by the gorillas too!” Cody shouted excitedly. “The bunny was following us! He was my favorite. When can we go back and see the bunny?” Cody asked with a serious look on his cherubic face.
“Soon, baby, we’ll go back soon,” Haley was staring at her husband hoping he could make sense of what their four-year-old has said. Rick was as clueless as she was, though and he shook his head in defeat. Once again, their son had baffled them (not a rare occurrence, as any parent could probably contend).
Giving up on flushing out this phantom bunny, the two adults remained quiet for the rest of the car ride home. After eating dinner and putting Cody to bed, they both retired to their bedroom, where Rick uploaded the pictures from their outing to his laptop.
“Honey, come here… you are not going to believe this,” Rick called to his wife who was still finishing her bedtime beauty routine in the adjoining bathroom.
“What?” Haley asked as she walked from the bathroom to the bed still rubbing in her face cream.
Without saying a word, Rick just pointed to his computer screen. Haley peered closer at the screen and then… she saw it: a cute little brown rabbit, sitting just a few feet from the perimeter of the elephant enclosure under a shrub.
“Are you kidding me?” Haley plopped down on the bed in disbelief.
“Wait, there’s more,” Rick said in an awed voice and he clicked a button to start the slideshow of the days’ pictures. As they scrolled Rick and Haley gasped as they saw a little brown bunny by the lion exhibit, a little brown bunny outside of the monkey house, a little brown bunny nibbling on something by the sloth enclosure, a little brown bunny in mid-hop near the kangaroos, a little brown bunny nibbling something outside of the toucan’s cage and bug house, and a little brown bunny staring right into the camera while the gorilla’s played coy behind him. There were even a few more shots that had captured their long-eared little photo-bomber.
“Maybe that bunny really was following us,” Haley said a little breathlessly.
“I don’t know, but after what I’ve seen, I think I’m with Cody. My new favorite animal as the zoo is that bunny,” Rick laughed.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today, after sharing a delicious lunch with my dad and step-mom, Andy and I ventured into the urban jungle of Atlanta in search of the zoo: Zoo Atlanta. We had a grand ol time, wandering between exhibits, learning new facts about exotic animals and just generally acting like big kids. We both spent quite a bit of time staring at our favorites, for Andy it was the timerans and I’m partial to the three-toed sloths (if you want to know what true, unadulterated bliss looks like, look into the face of a sloth). As we wandered the grounds, I noticed that we kept coming across the same animal, a cute little bunny. This bunny was not one of the zoo animals, but he lived quite happily in the zoo nevertheless. He hopped from here to there, munched on grass or the cast-offs of some of the ‘official’ residents. There was nothing special about this little rabbit, but wherever he popped up I found that I was much more enthralled watching him than the animal I was supposed to be interested in. And I wasn’t the only one. Kids were fascinated by this ‘wild animal’ and let out expressions of wonder as the tried to pull their parents away from the tiger or the panda to come see the bunny. Love it.
Love & Squirrels.