The Angry Penguin Keeper
Yesterday, I took the kids to see the penguin feeding at the Zoo.
There were lots of moms and dads and kids there. Some parents looked calm and happy, like they love love LOOOOOVE summer vacation! And some, well…less so.
Intermingled with the grown-up and little-kid chatter I heard various tired parent rebukes:
“Yossi, I said no more bamba. Do you hear me? NO MORE BAMBA! Or we’re going home!”
“Liel, stop running. I said, STOP RUNNING IMMEDIATELY! You will fall and break your head!”
“Tehila Hodaya, could you PLEASE make room for your brother to see the penguins. Stop just thinking about yourself!”
And then I turned my attention to the penguins. Maybe 40 of them, so small they looked like baby penguins. Scooting all around, hiding in holes, jumping into the water. Unbelievably adorable!
But then one of the children called out, “Look, the zoo lady is angry at the penguins!”
And I looked and saw the child was right– the zookeeper’s lips were pursed, her left hand pressed against one hip as, with her right index finger, she counted the penguins over and over and then stormed up and down the penguin exhibit in a high-state of irritation as she looked for a penguin who, it appeared, was hiding from her.
I couldn’t hear anything through the thick plastic barrier between the penguins and the crowd, but it looked as though the zookeeper was yelling at the penguins who scurried away from her.
And I could imagine the zookeeper’s reasoning for her anger: “But I must count all the penguins! And I can’t find one of them! And he’s a naughty penguin and he never listens to me! I have to teach him a lesson!”
But I had to smile… How ridiculous, I thought. Who cares if there’s one penguin more or less? Who cares if one is hiding in a hole and another went for a swim?
But then I looked around at the crowd of parents and kids, including this parent and these kids, and I wondered if, in fact, we weren’t looking through the plastic barrier but rather in a mirror?