As I sat down to write today, I was reminded of an experience we had during the summer of ’09. It’s a story that just begs to be shared, though I haven’t shared it with many. You see, the first person I shared it with said “ew, gross.” I became a bit shy after that, and actually forgot about it until tonight. That summer, the baby was just a couple of months old, our Middle One 3.5 and our Eldest had just turned 7. MrH was home for the summer (what a blessing) and we took the kids to the zoo.
We don’t have a great zoo where we live, but we do have an adequate one. It’s got lions, zebras, giraffes, gorillas. It’s very manageable to do in a half a day or so, and the kids were enamored with the place. This zoo has a wonderful chimpanzee house. There are seven chimps, including a mother and her two children. Rather than just having windows, many of the walls are made of glass and so you can often see the chimps right up close. This particular day, we walked up to a mama chimp cuddling her baby. Just as my baby was starting to do her now-familiar rooting maneuver, people watching the darling couple moved away. Was that shock or disgust registering on their faces? As I began nursing my baby, we realized that mama-chimp was nursing hers. Baby-chimp was latched on, and mama and baby stared in each others’ eyes. It was beautiful.
Our Middle One, who at the time rarely spoke due to speech delays, watched intently. “What’s going on for him?” I wondered. He watched. Looked over at me and this little baby who was nursing at my breast. Looked back at mama-chimp and her baby. Stepped a little closer to the glass. Mama-chimp was nestled against the glass, and our Middle One contorted himself so he was practically face to face with her baby. Finally a huge grin spread across his face: “she’s nursing!”