I am probably the last person you would ask to go with you to the zoo. I am the least who would appreciate live giraffe, elephant or panda (sorry panda lovers, but I do love panda toys though); mainly because it scares me even if they are meters away. I love going to sea aquariums though, but more often than not, I am very cautious of the aquarium glass that when it breaks, I should know where to run (or swim). Don't get me wrong, I am just ridiculously scared, and the only animal I probably find cute and I can cuddle with is my dog (a shih tzu).
Well then motherhood has taught me that there are things you would do to make your kid happy.
I found myself saying "wow" all the time because my daughter was so enthusiastic and amazed by everything she sees, and she deserves an enthusiastic parent too. I may not be able to like everything that I see, but appreciation is different from liking. Appreciation is genuinely recognising that things exist, but I don't have to fully love or like them.
The best part of my role when going to the zoo is taking photos. I am no professional photographer, I only have my iPhone with me, but the fact that I love to capture my daughter and husband's "wow" moments, I am more than happy.
Motherhood has taught me that it doesn't have to involve my likes and interests all the time. I have my own interests, I have my own likes, and not every activity that we do has to be associated with the kind of fun I enjoy. I have two other individuals with me, I have my family, my friends, who may be keen on doing something different, and if my presence adds to their enjoyment, then count me in (or should I say, they don't have a choice, because if my husband and daughter are there, I should be there too, haha).
I don't have to like and love the exact same thing my husband and my daughter like, but seeing them happy, makes me genuinely happy. There's no better description on how my daughter loves active play, and how she adores animals. Every time she is allowed for screen time, this is her request - "fin-jer-ma-mi-mal" (Finger animal, yes). There goes cow finger, dog finger, cat finger, lion and tiger finger. I may not be able to teach her the specifics of animals, but my husband got this. I'm leaving the details to him because I will never have my share of animal family. I had to take Zoology class in university twice.
There are many other things in life that I fear, but the thing to remember is to not pass my own fear to my kid. Kids love to explore, and a lot of them seem to be fearless (or at least when it comes to animals because the thing of seeing it live, and not just on Youtube is so special to them.
These kids do not understand the danger of having a crocodile behind them. I could not even pose for a photo mainly because I fear it; but one thing I thought of was, I can't drag my daughter to the same fear that I have. She has to recognise her own set of fears, and my role is to remind her that she is not alone.
Lastly, the most valuable lesson I have realised is - RESPECT.
These animals are alive, they have their own needs and preferences. In the middle of fun viewing with the panda, my daughter cried because of unknown reason (which happens all the time by the way). The first requirement from visitors is to keep silence. My daughter cried like there's no tomorrow, and I had to immediately stop her. The zoo keeper approached us and I immediately had to pacify her because we do not want to abuse the panda's world in any form. The pandas deserve our respect. It is their world anyway.
I may not be able to provide the right content of the visit to see the animals, but I guess these realisations are far more important than my encounter with a monkey.