Wednesday, January 5, 2011

People-watching, Breastfeeding, and Babywearing at the Jacksonville Zoo

Ruca & Foo feed a giraffe

On New Year's Day, we took Foo to the zoo.  It was amazing, and I can't believe we didn't do it sooner.  Foo laughing his head off at the sight of a jumping kangaroo was one of the best things I've ever seen.  We will definitely be going back soon, especially since we only made it through half the zoo before Foo decided it was naptime.

There were a gazillion kids at the zoo, which for some reason surprised me.  I guess I don't usually go places with tons of people who have kids his age.

I noticed a lot of babywearers too.  I actually felt a little guilty that I wasn't wearing Foo, especially because it would have put him at a much better height to see the animals over the fences and guard rails.  But he just will not let me wear him anymore.  He too old and independent and just wants to run around like crazy by himself when we're out in public.  Which is weird because at home he just wants to hang on me all the time and sit in my lap and have me carry him everywhere, even if I go to the kitchen to get a glass of water. But out in public, he'd really prefer to be as far away from me as possible, especially if he is trying to dart into a parking lot or climb the stairs in our apartment building to the second floor or generally do anything besides hold my hand like he's supposed to.  But I digress.

There was a mama with a verrrry tiny baby in a Maya, and another mama with a mei tei carrier.  There were also a couple crotch danglers, as well as one of those giant contraptions that go on your back that looks like you're carrying your baby around in a laundry basket.

Anyway, we were wandering around the zoo somewhere when Mr. S [that's my baby-daddy if you're new here] tapped me on the shoulder and pointed off into the trees.  What is it - an animal? No, it's a little sign that says something like "nursing area," and about 10 feet off the path there is a nice big rocking chair with a table.

Now I know some people are peeved by nursing areas and feel that they basically quarantine nursing moms into an isolated area and send off a message like "boobs allowed here and nowhere else," but this was different for a couple reasons. For one thing, it's completely outdoors and in plain sight. There's no "privacy wall" or little room or anything to hide you away.  The chair is facing out towards passersby walking along the path.  I also like that they provide a giant rocking chair.

[Compare this "nursing area" to the "mother's room" at Babies R Us -- an isolated room across from the bathroom with a plastic sofa and overflowing diaper pails.]

I really wish I'd taken a picture, but what kind of crazy person stands in the middle of a zoo full of creatures and takes a photo of a rocking chair? I came really, really close to being that person....