Let us compare my household to the Blijdorp Zoo that we have recently acquired family passes to.
1. The sounds. Animal sounds and kid sounds are (obviously) very similar, and similarly loud. Add to that the sounds of a husband singing (I use the term loosely) Grease/Disney songs while washing dishes (don't look so surprised, everyone knows what a slavedriver I am), the sounds of 3 Skype accounts, 1 landline and 4 cell phones, 1 iPad, 1 laptop and 2 iPods, 2 TVs..... and the primitive, eardrum piercing screams when food is in Elliot's sight.... and you get the picture. That takes me to...
2. Feeding time. Much like an animal that relies on its caretaker to feed it at set times, my children circle doorways and hallways when I am working on a meal in the kitchen. Their hearing has evolved to something that can really only be called a sixth sense for that sound that is produced when turning the key in the lock to the pantry that houses the treats, or that little creak the one floorboard in the hallway makes that tips them that mama is on the move, and she might just be getting food. If I, once found out, do not proceed to sharing whatever food it is that I am getting/eating/preparing/standing-in-the-general-vicinity-of, they launch their attack. They open fire with a barrage of 'MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA MAMA's, and they do not stop until I give in. Once food has been given, it usually ends up everywhere. And please don't think I'm just saying that for effect. I have found strands of spaghetti stuck to a wall nowhere near the dinner table (they keep on sticking when they dry up, you never know when you might need that knowledge), had pretzels come tumbling out of my bra upon undressing for the night, green beans in diapers, potatoes under the couch, apples IN the couch, and (my favourite) bright orange babyfood flung high speed, Jackson Pollock style, onto my white living room wall and smeared all over Elliot's head. We saw a bird show at the zoo and one of the birds fed on snakes. It would find a snake, pick it up in its beak, and lift it up only to throw it down onto a hard surface with all its might to kill it so it could eat it... and I swear I've seen that happen in our house at least twice - though, granted, not with live prey.
3. The smells. You know what smells the absolute worst at the zoo? The bat cave. You know what smells the absolute worst at the Koot residence? Elliot's butt. I would say the level of nastiness is equal, or tipping the scale in favor of Elliot. Elliot Smelliot.
4. The cute. I don't think I have to explain myself when I compare baby elephants with Julia's huge eyes and shy smile when she goes 'I love you more'. Or when I compare a fuzzy baby llama to Elliot's curly mop that tickles every single cuddle bone in your body. How about when Max goes 'Ooh' in that tone that is halfway between 'Oh right, duh' and 'Ew', and sounds way too adult. Animals and kids alike, they are trying to kill me with cute.
5. Accidents. Rule: when you don't put a diaper on it, it will pee against the window for the world to see. This is widely known to go for both zoo animals as well as 3 year old boys.
6. Don't get too close. If you get too close you can get bitten, slimed, pee'd on, burped at, grabbed, smacked, inappropriately touched, knocked over, scratched, or suddenly find yourself in a not-so-symbiotic relationship.
There you have it. Living in this house is exactly like living at the Blijdorp Zoo, which is probably why we love going there/living here so much.