Helen has been afraid of my dad since she was almost 18 months old, when he helped me give her cold medication while on a family trip. Since then, every time she has seen him (which is frequent; my parents live around the corner), he has had to regain her trust and it’s been a major source of frustration for him and for us. The name she calls him, “Papacake,” comes from a time when he was trying to bribe her to like him by giving her cake. It worked for that day, and then she talked about “Papacake” and the name stuck.
Today we went to the Birmingham Zoo with Papacake and Grama. It was hot as hell, but we had a great time. Helen FED a giraffe (and Helen is positively obsessed with giraffes since our visit to the Knoxville Zoo in April 2004). She saw Mona the Elephant’s 57th birthday party. She saw otters and a beaver and a whole lot of turtles. She watched a tiger go swimming to cool off. She saw monkeys pouncing on each other and swinging from rope to rope. She saw the full plumage of a peacock, and was a little afraid of the zebras.
And Helen and Papacake bonded. She held his hand, let him hold the other end of her wandering toddler leash (I’m SO glad she likes that thing, because it simplifies our lives when we’re out with both girls… She thinks it’s funny, which is good.), rode the Carousel with him, rode the zoo train with him, held onto his pants leg while looking at animals, and was absolutely perfect. Dad was impressed with how non-whiny our kids were compared to many others at the zoo, which made me happy. Granted, she’s only freshly three — the Whining Has Not Yet Begun, I’m sure.
So he took her to the gift shop as we were leaving.
You must understand, this is HUGE. My father ABHORS shopping (unless it’s at Lowe’s, but even then he must go alone). Especially with other people.
Helen came out of there with a giraffe necklace that lights up, a snowglobe-style butterfly ring, a package of animal stickers, a package of butterfly temporary tattoos, and a tree frog temporary tattoo. She sucked him in, wrapped him securely around her little finger, and I couldn’t be more pleased.
I just hope we don’t have to start again next time she sees him.