Our youngest turned 13 in February, joining her older two siblings in ‘teen hood’ (though our oldest will turn 20 in June this year!). Having started high school a couple of weeks before her birthday there was, certainly for me, a moment of nostalgia as I reflected on how grown up my ‘baby’ has become over the past few years. I love my teens so much and am so proud of them all, but of course miss the little people they were too and treasure those memories with all my heart.
It’s so great to see our youngest start in her first year of high school, alongside one of her older siblings – who is in her last year at the same school. We decided to head to Wellington Zoo to celebrate this milestone birthday, a place where we have spent many hours over the years and made some wonderful memories.
We had never experienced one of the animal encounters at the zoo and so this was an exciting ‘first’ for us! Wellington Zoo offers animal encounters with red pandas, meerkats, giraffes, sun bears, capybaras, lemurs, mini beasts and tigers! Alice was keen to have an encounter with the meerkats so I booked an encounter for a day near her birthday (which turned out to be a gorgeous day!), picked her and a friend up from high school and went straight to the zoo!
We met with the zoo keeper and after a brief chat she took us into the meerkat enclosure where we sat (with fingers away from sharp teeth) to watch them clamber over our knees and in front of us, enjoying some food the keeper had laid out.
The encounter was half an hour long, in which time we learned so many interesting facts about meerkats, which are incredibly intelligent little creatures that are pretty tough! They are immune to some types of venomous snakes, have developed a technique for handling the venom found in scorpions (which they eat) and use complex coordinated behaviour, which rivals that of chimps, baboons, dolphins and even humans. They solve tasks with help from their mob but also a bit of independent thought. They can spot birds miles away on the horizon! Vision is their most developed sense.
After our encounter there wasn’t a lot of time left before the zoo shut, so we raced around seeing as much as we could, before heading off to one of Alice’s favourite restaurants for dinner; Genghis Kahn, where we enjoyed a Mongolian BBQ dinner.
On Alice’s actual Birthday we went out for a family meal, inviting one of Alice’s friends from home ed days. We enjoyed a lovely Japanese meal together. Alice is so happy that she’s able to still enjoy seeing her home ed friends, whilst making lots of new friends at high school. One of her home ed friends has also started at the same high school, but a year above, so they enjoy hanging out at lunch time together too!
It’s been a great start to the year and we are so happy for Alice to be thriving and still having plenty of time outside of school to pursue her love of digital art.