The only thing left from the visit was the “Dora the Explorer” sunglasses. Joe found them on the floor under his bed after 2-year-old Sarah and her parents had left Saturday for their home in northern Virginia.
Pink sunglasses were a high point among a week of high points for the first visit to Mississippi by my son Jon, his wife, Mary, and their kids, Evan, 10, Nicholas, 8, and Sarah.
Their whirlwind visit included a day at the Memphis Zoo, a look at Oxford and the Square Books Jr. bookstore, ice skating in the Bancorp South Arena in Tupelo and an afternoon at Chuck E. Cheese.
On the way back from Oxford, somehow Sarah started thinking about her sunglasses – the ones she had had a year earlier. Her mom reminded her that she had broken her Dora sunglasses and she had thrown them in the trash. Sarah asked if she could get them out of the trash, which led Mary to tell her that they’d been at the city dump for nearly a year. Sarah was inconsolable, both about the fact that she didn’t have sunglasses and that the old ones were at the dump.
That afternoon, Mary found the identical Dora sunglasses at Walmart and surprised Sarah with them. First, though, she extracted a promise about how careful Sarah would be with her new sunglasses. One day later, they were lost.
Such is life with a 2-year-old, I guess. But because out grandchildren live so far away, we don’t experience it on a daily basis. I’m not the best grandfather, anyway, because I grow weary of their boundless energy and long for nap time (mine, not theirs).
But not Jenny, who can drag out a seemingly endless supply of games and books to keep them entertained. (It must be that teacher mentality.) Or Uncle Joe, who despite being 19, can spend hour after hour playing games with the boys and moderating the typical sibling rivalry.
For me, the highlight of the week was a day trip to the Memphis Zoo, where none of us ever had been. It was a cold 45 degrees with a brisk wind, but we were bundled up and the animals were at their frisky best.
A zoo is one of my favorite places to visit. I love to watch the animals, but I had never gone to a zoo in the winter when there are few people to block your view and no lines at the concession stand. We sat for a while in the Cat Country Café, enjoying the antics of the gibbons through the large picture windows that separate the café from their habitat. The gibbons would come right up to the glass to the delight of the kids (parents and grandparents, too).
Of course, we spent time in the China exhibit, watching the pandas eat bamboo. A sign said a panda spends most of its waking hours eating and consumes 40 pounds of bamboo a day.
But my favorite was the farm area, with its supply of non-exotic, but kid-friendly, animals that seem to enjoy being petted and being fed hay by a 2-year-old. It reminds me of growing up on a farm, but without the chores.
The week flew by and when they left on Saturday, we were worn out, and ready to turn on the college bowl games and take a football nap, which we did.
Sunday I put the pink sunglasses in a box and Monday they went to the post office. Later this week Sarah will be wearing her Doras again – and trying to keep them out of the dump.
T. Wayne Mitchell, publisher of the Gazette, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by-email at firstname.lastname@example.org.