"taleS froM the trencheS

National Guard wife blogging about her adventures with three sons and the unexpected joys of Smith-Magenis Syndrome (SMS)
....um, yes. They are tears of joy. Really.

Our Squad

Our Squad

Monday, May 17, 2010

Smells Like Money

“It smells like money to me!” is the response farmers utter to visitors that comment on the scent of our “country air.” Growing up in Ohio, I thought I had been exposed to all of Nature's various odors. And then I went on my first “safari”...
Over the years, my husband and I have left the county fair, the aquarium and the zoo within minutes after arrival because our son, Garrett, cannot handle the over stimulation from the loud noise and large crowds. When I found an advertisement about a drive-thru safari, I thought I had found the perfect day trip.
“We can stay in our own vehicle,” I explained to my husband, Charlie. “We do not need to worry about a tour guide with a loud speaker. You can buy food at the gift shop and the animals will eat right from your hands.” It was too good to be true.
So, we loaded up our three boys and my niece, Amanda, an expert at keeping Garrett entertained on long van rides, and drove to Lake Erie. Three long hours later, we pulled into the park and steered towards the gift shop. And we drove right past the playground.
“Slide! Slide!” Garrett started calling from the third row seat.
“Garrett, do you want to see a buffalo?” Amanda asked. At ten years old, she knew where this conversation was headed.
“I.....'ike...slide!” he answered.
“Garrett, do you want to sit up here with me?” Charlie asked, as he returned with two large cups of pellets.
“Slide?” Garrett responded. Ignoring the question, Charlie placed Garrett on his lap and I slowly drove to the gate. Realizing that Garrett was loose, the other three passengers removed their seat belts. Six faces tried to squeeze out the only two windows that rolled down. One face was looking everywhere but at the animals walking right towards us.
“Slide! Slide! Slide!”
“Garrett, look! Here comes a moose!” I tried to distract him.
“Slide!” he screamed as he tried to open the door. Terrified, Charlie turned on me like a rat on a ship that was sinking.
“Great idea!” he shouted at me just as a zebra stuck his whole head right into the van and began to inhale the pellets from the cup in Charlie's lap. I had never seen my children find their seats so quickly.
“My God!” Charlie shrieked. “Roll up the window!”
“Do you want me to decapitate a zebra?” I asked him. Besides, I was too busy hitting the button for my own window before that very large moose got any closer.
“What is that smell?” Amanda gasped. And then it hit me. Wow! The smell was unbelievable. And it smelled nothing like money. Not at all.
“Slide! Slide!” Garrett continued, not once glancing at the zebra. As soon as the pellets were gone, the zebra moved on towards the vehicle behind us. And Charlie wasted no time in getting his window closed. The van soon turned warm, so I cranked up the air conditioning.
“Breathe through your mouth,” I advised my passengers. In a booth half way through the safari, a teenager was selling refills of pellets. We pretended not to see him.
When we returned to the park, Charlie took the kids on a camel ride but Garrett and I spent the rest of the day on the playground. “I guess we don't have to spend a day's pay to have a good time,” Charlie commented on the trip back home.
I don't know when I am going to stop trying to impress Garrett. He can find all the joy in the world on the swing set in his own backyard.
I am reminded of this lesson every time I drive in the rain. And the smell of zebra permeates from the vents once again.

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