Sunday, November 20, 2005

Ask Mrs. Linklater MONKEY POOP Edition

Mrs. Linklater was shocked to learn of the misinformation foisted on small children by their parents. She can feel the pain of this conscientious zookeeper who is upset when dumb old Mom or Dad is so ignorant they don't know a Horses Assaronious from a Dumb Assaronious. Dear Abby's advice is that we should all learn to say, "I don't know." But Mrs. L thinks we all ought to follow Steve Martin's sage wisdom and simply say, "I forgot."

Published November 18, 2005

Dear Abby: I work at a large zoo, in the children's zoo department. I cannot count the number of timesI have heard parents lie to their child about the animals they are observing.

In an enclosure with several species of animal, for example, they will tell their child that pygmy species (smaller than non-pygmy when full-grown) are actually babies of large animals. I have also seen them give incorrect information about animal behavior, diet and habitat.

These parents should respect their child enough to admit that they sometimes don't know the answer. If you don't know the answer, ask a keeper. We are usually on hand and don't mind talking about the animals we love and interact with daily. It pains us to hear parents provide misinformation to children.

-- Keeper in the East

Dear Keeper: It does a child a grave disservice to give him or her misinformation. Children are little vessels. If you fill their heads with nonsense, they'll pour it forth at a later date -- embarrassing themselves in front of friends or in the classroom.

It seems that one of the most difficult phrases in the English language for people to utter is, "I don't know." Perhaps that's because they are afraid it will make them appear stupid, so they try to fill the vacuum by saying something -- a mistake. A more constructive approach is to say, "I don't know, but I'll help you get the answer," especially when talking to a child.

Zoos were created for the purpose of education, conversation, recreation and research. When visiting a zoo, if you have a question, you should ask a zookeeper or a docent, if one is provided.

Mrs. Linklater leaps up from her spot under the bridge. Holy pygmy rhino, Ms. Zookeeper, have you been sniffing the monkey kibble? Parents have been lying to their children since they asked where babies came from. What's wrong with making up a story about why elephants have trunks? Kids love to tell Mom and Dad they're wrong.

Mo-o-o-m, elephants don't buy their trunks at Sears! What a perfect time for a parent to feign shock and ignorance, then invoke the Steve Martin mantra -- "I forgot." Your children love it when they can know more than you do. Isn't that the real lesson for them to learn at the zoo?

As for you Abby, zoos aren't for education, recreation, research, etc., etc. Zoos are for bears that sit up and eat marshmallows. Elephants that crush watermelons. Monkeys that throw poop. And parents who make up crazy stories about strange and exotic creatures. Yes, that's a real snuffalupagus, Susie.

Basically are you two sticklers for truth saying Mrs. Linklater and her ilk can't tell the kiddies that a camel is a horse made by a committee anymore? You're no fun.

So when we see baboons copulating or, ahem, other gratifying behaviors, you want us to DESCRIBE THEM honestly and truthfully? Well, honey, even though they're monkeys, the scientists call that doggy style.

Actually, on reflection, Mrs. L thinks you two zoo twits may both may be right after all. It IS better to find a zookeeper and ask her what the heck they're doing. Just to see the look on her face.

Meanwhile, I have to get this monkey shine off my jacket.


Mrs. L said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Remo said...

Why does every profession have a sect of snobs? There's no better way to take the fun out of anything than to have Ms. Snooty-Zoo wandering around, demanding correctness from fourth-graders.
Yes, Virginia. Goats really do eat ANYTHING.

dreaminglily said...

lmao What is wrong with people? My parents told me about pink elephants when I was little just to make me look the other way in a car so I wouldn't see Toys R Us, and I have no emotional scarring, trust me lol

Besides, I'm not telling a five yr old what the monkey is doing with another monkey. I can use the same line as my mom. "They're cuddling." Worked on me, lol


Anna said...

Oh, spare me from having to tell the truth to my children all the time. Especially when they want to know why the baboons are painted at BOTH ends.
"Because he likes to look good coming and going."
Wait, that could be taken the wrong way.
"I forgot."
Much better. :p

Judith HeartSong said...

oh, we hear parents giving interesting renditions of information all the time, and it is not our place as interpreters to jump in and say "Johnnie and Sue, mom and dad don't know what they're talking about.... so let me help."
If the parents look to us for info, we will gladly give it, but sometimes it is just best to let the kids sit with the knowledge that their parents are omnicient.
I am sure not gonna mess with that dynamic.

TJ said...

Sweet Bridget women you never missed a beat in your move lol!
Love your journal as always~

Chris said... thing ya know she'll tell us it's wrong to lie to my 6 y/o about the vibrating flashlight he found in the nightstand by our bed.

My Blog
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robin said...

The zoo is the perfect place to teach a kid about life. "Take a bath or you'll wish you had that baboon's red ass excuse." See? Perfect.

Hey, do you think I could slip Blogspot a twenty and they could send me an entry alert at AOL?

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