Axis of Evil
I've done it. I've really done it. Today, I located the undeniably REAL "axis of evil". I don't use that phrase lightly. In fact, the word "evil" is rarely (if ever) muttered from my lips, let alone the term above that gets tossed around like a fish at sea in today's world. I don't like the word. It is a label...a judging word...it creates fear...which creates the "other"...which creates more fear...which creates ignorance...which creates hatred...which creates war...you get the picture...I just don't often use the word. But today...I am compelled to use it. Whoever came up with the brilliant marketing ploy to place a free standing kiosk, full of stuffed monkeys, lizards, elephants and whatever other animal that just captivated the hearts of small children at the zoo, right at the exit zone, where everyone must parade themselves through....is downright EVIL. Not only do they dangle the eye candy for these poor unsuspecting children at kids eye view, they also place most of their merchandise so low that some parents have to actually PRY the object of their child's affection out of their determined fingers. I know, I know. It is genius. It takes great minds that have mastered manipulation to create a ploy like that to fuel the fires of consumer culture. After all, consumerism just plays on our desire of ownership (or in other words our inability to share), our hope that we can buy happiness (or in other words our despair if we don't have what we want at the moment), our competitive nature (or in other words our comparing ourselves to what other people have and not feeling "enough" if we don't have it), our carelessness (or disregard for how and where things come from), and so on and so forth. Come to think of it, the very foundation of consumerism itself plays on the characteristics often found in a 2 year old!! So...it makes perfect sense to appeal to their every desire to have, have, have. It isn't enough that I bought a membership to the zoo in the first place. It isn't enough that I frequent the zoo. It isn't enough that I bought a refillable thermos from the zoo and on occasion use my $1 refill benefit throughout my visits. It isn't enough that I have bought Asher several rides on the carousel. It isn't even enough that, against my better judgement, bought him a Zoo hat AND a $2.99 toy froggy that he couldn't live without at one of the small shops strategically placed by the bathroom. (In my defense, my toehead really does "need" a hat...especially on a day like today.) I already reinforced the values of consumerism that I have an ever increasing desire to start challenging more consistently. But never the less, none of this was enough. The gift shop itself, which is placed right before the zoo exit as well, isn't even enough. No...they have to stick one more obstacle on your never ending course to freedom. Seriously. When it is time to leave the zoo...it is TIME to leave the zoo. Asher was already headed for meltdown hour and he was trying so hard to be a good kid. And then we passed the kiosk. It's like running through an obstacle course where the end is in sight and then one more thing is thrown in front of you...like a sinkhole or something. He spots a lizard. Oh...how I want a lizard. If I don't have a lizard...I think I might explode. If I don't get a lizard...this could be the end. No one can come between me and my lizard. I keep walking. And it happens. The thing that these kiosk people live off of. The thing that enables their existence. The exact thing that they WANT to happen (that is why it is so evil). Asher starts screaming. He starts kicking the foot stool on his stroller. Tears start POURING down his face. He turns bright red. He is very mad...because he is heartbroken...because I am not listening to how much he REALLY wants that lizard. At this point I couldn't even understand what he was saying. I pull over to the side of the path. I ask him to calm down and to use his words. "what is it that you want Asher?" huff, huff, sigh, sigh "da yiyard?" "no buddy, we aren't going to get the lizard" More screaming, some threatening motions with his arms to let me know just how devastatingly SAD this all is, and more tears. I see that this isn't going to stop so I decide to just keep moving. No more indulging today. I keep walking. "I know it is hard buddy but I know you can handle it." Asher is really sad. He is really upset that I don't understand how much he loves that lizard. He is P-Oed. I am waking through the parking lot and the tantrum is getting worse. People are staring at me, staring at Asher. I can almost see the questions in their minds. What did she do? Why is he so hysterical? What is wrong with that kid. Top of the lungs screaming. His body starting to flail. He is literally throwing himself back and forth and I can only imagine what people are seeing with a full on view. I keep on pacing through the parking lot (which, by the way, just happened to be SO FULL this morning that I had to park in a dirt lot about 15 miles west of where I was)... ok...that is an exaggeration...but you get the picture. Asher is having a melt down. A melt DOWWWWWWnnnnnn.....all the way down. The MOTHER of all meltdowns. I decide to pull over. I squat next to him in the stroller and talk as quietly as I can. "Asher. You need to calm down" His screaming stops. The crying slows. He can't catch his breath from all the excitability in his little body. I seriously think he going to pass out. His whole face is drenched with tears. He can't keep his eyes open. He is holding on to my hands for dear life. He is one sad little kid. He calms himself down. We take some deep breaths. I ask him if he wants his froggie. He says NO. Wow. He is really sad. I tell him we are going to the car. He doesn't want to let go of me. "Do you want me to hold you?" "Yeeesh" ok. So here I am. In 96 degree weather (with JEANS on...but that part is my own fault), pushing a double stroller while holding a very tired two year old, and four wheeling my way through the desert landscape to reach the sanctuary of my car. Beautiful. I mean, I know that the money goes to keeping the zoo around. The zoo is great. It is very educational. It is fun and exciting and (hopefully) a good conservation tool. I love the zoo! But throw us a bone (preferably a lizard shaped one) and move the darn kiosk! It only creates dread in those of us who have children with hearts that cling to animal shaped gadgets and who have more determination in their pinky finger than most people have in their entire bodies. Needless to say...Asher is peacefully dozing at this moment...probably dreaming about lizards. And, I'll bet you $20 that when he wakes up...he will want to know WHY he doesn't have one in his hands. Ha! Then maybe the next time we visit the zoo, I will ignore my desire to become an activist for simple living, and I'll buy the dang lizard with my winnings!