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Meerkats and red pandas

Fulltime Foster Carer - Harriet author of: A Less Ordinary Family

Meerkats and red pandas

Tuesday 9th August

After a week of fairly low key activities we have been saving the best day out until last. It may also have had something to do with waiting for the best day of weather! We were up and ready early, the forecast was good, the picnic was packed and we were ready to go – today we are off to the zoo! This is usually a family favourite, as all three of the girls love animals. I was mostly excited because I had found a free child entry voucher! There’s nothing quite like finding a voucher for something you are actually going to anyway! It only got better when I realised that if I printed two vouchers then Charlie could take Lauren in for free and we could ask our friends to take Annie in for free. I would already get in as a carer and Alice was at a reduced rate as she is disabled. So we had a total saving of over £30!!

However, some days it does not matter how organised you are or how much effort you have put in things just do not go according to plan. Alice had woken up in a foul mood. I could have guessed how the day would go. We tried to ignore the atmosphere she was creating and carried on. Despite the weather forecast it rained on and off for most of the day – meaning we had to duck in and out of shelter. During a nice dry spell we stopped for our packed lunch.

Predictably it was not to Alice’s liking and she decided not to eat at all. As the words “if you don’t eat up you will miss out on your ice-cream’ left my mouth, I instantly regretted it. It was like the words were still hanging in the air and Alice crossed her arms, gave a humph and the decision was made – there was no way she would eat anything now.

We tried to carry on with our day, enjoying seeing the animals. In particular we all loved watching the penguins, meerkats and red pandas. It wasn’t long however until our attention was drawn to the big cats – especially the Lions. Lauren and Annie suddenly had pangs of guilt as they remembered that we had left our kittens at home. They were being looked after by friends, but the girls now began to miss them and were talking about going home to see them!

Later in the afternoon while we were on the queue for ice-cream, it suddenly dawned on Alice the consequence of her earlier actions. We didn’t want Lauren and Annie to miss out on a promised treat, we didn’t want to go back on a threat that probably should never have been made, we were in a pickle. Alice had a captive audience and while we were trying to decide what to do she had a huge melt down. She shouted and screamed – she declared to everyone that she was having the worst day of her life.

It is hard to maintain composure in these circumstances, but it is essential to do so. Charlie takes Alice off for a chat, and despite his best efforts, finds it hard to calm Alice. Eventually she stops, and we are able to then explain why she is not having ice cream, and the importance of her making better choices at meal times. She says sorry, and says she will make better choices next time. We have our doubts about this, and yet it always pays to take this at face value and allow the storm to pass!

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