When Don announced to Oscar Thursday morning that we were going to visit Franklin Park Zoo outside Boston, he reminded us that we had already been to a zoo this week and that, perhaps, we should sprinkle a little more variety into our vacation. Those weren’t his exact words but the sentiment was the same. When we arrived, we followed the “zebra prints” that were painted on a pathway leading visitors into the zoo and tried, in a moment of whimsy, to imagine the zebras parading down Dorchester’s Columbia Avenue leaving their prints behind. Oscar surmised that they weren’t real zebra prints but rather someone–a human, in fact–must have painted them on the concrete. Then there was the exhibit featuring replicas of the bones of a large animal. Children were running in, on, and around the bones, and Oscar let them know in no uncertain terms that their behavior was “disrespectful”–to the bones, to the life that the bones once purportedly represented, we’re not sure. But he was not pleased. But lest one think he is not four but rather 74, he nevertheless hopped on the carousel, wrestled his brother, scuffed through the dirt paths, played “conductor” in a play area, and had moments of silliness that rivaled those of his parents and brother.
Oscar and Edgar see the world in different ways–Oscar expects logic and order; he questions everything, and needs to know if something is “real” or “mythological.” Edgar is his opposite: He is unfazed by disorder, happy to embrace any experience–whether or not it bears a resemblance to another experience earlier in the week–and revels in whimsy and silliness. He wants to run in, on, and around the bones despite his brother’s admonitions.
But what they feel for each other is becoming increasingly undeniable: Walking along, they will suddenly hold hands or hug. Or today, when Oscar thought an older girl had pushed Edgar, he said to her fearlessly and with conviction, “Don’t push my brother!” They play with each other and check in with each other and make sure the other is nearby. And despite their differences in philosophy, they are clearly there for each other. And as they travel through life together perhaps Edgar will show Oscar that once in ahwile it’s okay to imagine a zebra walking down a busy city street; and Oscar will remind Edgar that he should probably refrain from using a respectable paleontological display as his personal trampoline. In all, something tells me they’re going to be good for each other.
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