The answer was an unequivocal no. After spending the night at the zoo with my first fifth grader six years ago, this was a question I would never entertain again. No. No. No. A mom of four boys simply needs her sleep.
That all changed when my 3rd fifth grader sat in the back seat of the car, sleeping bag and toothbrush already packed and ready to go, and he said these life transforming words:
“I never said you couldn’t stay.”
What the heck is that supposed to mean?
My heart was already softened after nursing him through another bout of Poison Ivy. We were attached.
Quick my mind flashed back through what this entailed. I thought of the fact that I had not even eaten dinner yet. The frigid cold night air whipping across our backs as we walked through the zoo at night. The endless lectures as the zoo keepers pulled out armadillos, snakes, opossums, lizards and alligators from their coolers for us to pet. (No thank you, please.) And finally, that empty feeling as the lights finally go out at 12:30 a.m., in the crowded auditorium as sleeping bags shuffle all the way through till morning, girls whispering with the goal of staying up ALL NIGHT LONG. No sleep, an achy back. In the morning, feeling dirty and tired, served a breakfast of sugar cereals and knowing there are still two more hours of walking through the zoo left to go. I just want to go home! No.
But something else knew I could do it — knew I wanted to do it.
“You grab a sleeping bag for me, and I’ll get my toothbrush.”
When my son, with his friends, jumped over to my sleeping bag to give me play-by-plays of their ongoing poker game, and how he giggled when I refused to pet the snakes, I realized this was my only option.
The coolest part was the bats — Fox Bats at night– opening their wings. They looked just like Batman himself.