A couple of weeks ago we packed up for the day and headed out to meet a couple of other families at African Lion Safari. We all live in different parts of southern Ontario, and African Lion Safari is kind of in the middle. Between the three families there were four kids — a three-year-old, two almost-two-year-olds and an almost one-year-old.
Syona really enjoyed visiting the Vancouver Aquarium on our vacation so I assumed that she’d be into seeing all the animals on the safari, taking in an elephant show and going on an animal ride. As always, Syona had her own plans!
Since my childhood memories of African Lion Safari consisted of being terrified by monkeys that attacked our Pontiac Parisienne, we decided to take a tour bas through the safari park. Syona spent the entire bus trip eating her lunch. She didn’t notice a single animal, but at least she ate most of her sandwich, so I guess that’s a win. The other kids were mildly interested, but us parents spent the first 15 minutes of the trip saying things like, “See the cheetah? The one that’s lying there. Not moving at all. Do you know it’s super fast? Oh, look at the lion. It’s sleeping… and sleeping… and sleeping.” Then we gave up and spent the remainder of the ride catching up with one another, which was so much better than our attempts to validate our efforts to actually visit a family attraction rather than getting together at someone’s house for a barbecue and a visit to the nearest swing set.
Later on we caught the elephant show. Syona spent the entire show playing a game I like to call “cold” with my two friends. It’s a super complicated game where people place a cold water bottle on various parts of her body and she says “ah” (her version of “again”). Believe it or not, it’s a game that can be played anywhere — with or without elephants.
So what did Syona like? She loved the elephant ride and even got to touch the animal afterward. And we spent the better part of the afternoon at the splash pad, which is just awesome! Because Syona can’t move around, one of us always ends up playing in the water as much as her, which is a pretty good way to cool down on a hot afternoon. And we got a chance to spend some much-needed time with beloved friends we don’t see as often as we’d like.
What I realized after this trip was that Syona doesn’t need to visit all the nearby family attractions. She’s just as happy with a trip to our neighbourhood park or a family restaurant. I guess there’s always next summer!
How old were your kids when they started to enjoy family attractions? Where are your favourite places to go with your family?
P.S. A few weeks ago I shared that Syona hit a huge milestone by saying “ba.” My hope was that she’d soon follow with “mama.” On Saturday night Syona happily started saying “ma-ma, ma-ma, ma-ma” in a sweet little singsong voice. It was the best Saturday night, ever!
Stay in touch
Subscribe to Today's Parent's daily newsletter for our best parenting news, tips, essays and recipes.