Is That Your Child or a Wild Animal?

by Nicole Merritt April 12, 2017

This is a submission in our monthly contest. January’s theme is "Wild."

Recently I took the kids to the local zoo. Yep, all three kiddies and me. We thought it would be a nice way to kick off summer vacation. While navigating the property, we encountered tons of different and unique animals, some of which reminded me of one of my kids at some point.

I know what you are thinking: “She's looney.” Either that or you think I'm the worst mother in the world for sharing with the world that I, on occasion, have an easy time comparing my children to zoo animals. But I bet you could, too.

There are so many similarities between wild creatures and our children. Passing up an opportunity to make and share the correlation was just something I could not do.

Ever seen a toddler go ape-shit on you? Boom, there's your gorilla. For real, right? How else are our kids like gorillas? Well, gorillas spend their time in three main activities: feeding, traveling, and resting – the same as your child, who basically only wants to eat, stay busy, rest, and then repeat.

Do your kids enjoying viewing the tortoises at your local zoo? I'm sure they do, because it's like visiting a long-lost family member. Think about it. Ever beg your young child to hurry up because it takes them ten million years to do anything, including get their shoes on or get out of the car? That's because they're like the land tortoise who moves at less than one mile an hour. Nice little family reunion for them, right?

Wait, did you just secretly open a snack for yourself? No way that you're going to enjoy that little goodie without your child. With his slothbear-like keen sense of smell and great eyesight, he'll spot it for sure. You will never, ever get away with eating something and not having to share some of it with your children ever again.

How about those lorys who have no concept of respect for personal space? Ever walk into the lory bird sanctuary at a zoo and have them leave you completely alone? That's rare. Usually, once you enter, they swarm you – they're on your head, your shoulders, your arms – just about everywhere. Just like your children, right? I mean, when is one not being held by you, or tugging on you, or touching you? For me, it feels like never.

You know what other animal my children are like? Giraffes, or at least the ones at my local zoo. The giraffes there are very moody and often do not comply with the requests of the handlers to come closer for a guest-giraffe encounter. Who does this sound like? Who else can be ill-tempered, rebellious, and non-compliant? I don’t think I have to tell you. I'm pretty sure you have that one figured out.

You also can’t forget about how our children, as toddlers, often waddle like drunk penguins, typically stink like warthogs, and spit like llamas whenever they excitedly talk to you.

There's one last comparison to be made, and this one might surprise you. This was not a creature that had its own exhibit at our zoo. Rather, it was a creature that we saw and observed, many times, merely walking the zoo property. Can you guess what it was? A butterfly.

How are butterflies similar to our children? Well, just like children, each butterfly we saw was different and unique in its appearance. Each one had different mannerisms, unique to itself. Each one was taking a different path and flying in a different pattern. You know what else? Each butterfly was beautiful and each butterfly made us smile. Wouldn’t you say the same about your children? (I couldn’t end on a less-than-positive comparison.)

It isn’t always bad to be compared to an animal. I'm proud of my children’s animal-like qualities. I love animals and I love kids. That's why I am totally cool with my son wanting to go to the zoo, aquarium, or pet store each and every day.

Sandra Bullock said once, “If you don’t have kids and animals, you don’t truly know what life is about.” Amen, sister.

This post has appeared on the author's personal blog,, under the title "How Children Are Like Zoo Animals."

Nicole Merritt


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