You love animals, right?
Of course you do, because who doesn’t love animals? (Mom and Buried!) Of course, there’s a difference between loving animals and devoting your life to them, and I wish someone had told me that before I became a parent, because what are young children but animals without fur?
That’s why I relate to this month’s 1 in 100 Million video. Being a parent and being a zookeeper aren’t all that different.
But don’t take my word for it.
The 1 in 100 Million website is “devoted to sharing the personal stories of the people who do the many important and too-often unrecognized jobs we all rely on.” The video spotlights have covered teachers, trauma nurses, and a baseball bat maker, and last month I expressed my desire for Detective Munch to become a pinball game tester.
This month, let’s talk about the job I might want, if I didn’t kind of already have it: Zookeeper!
Here are some ways Jenny Theuman, the zookeeper featured in this month’s 1 in 100 Million video, describes her job. She makes it sound an awful lot like being a parent.
- “[It’s] hard work – and constant action.”
- “They’re living, breathing animals,” she says with a smile. “They need you to stick around and finish what you’ve started.”
- “It’s pretty competitive.”
- A day on the job for a zookeeper? Eating, cleaning, training, enrichment, repeat!
- “This is a way of life […] and not a job.”
- People always ask: “Don’t you just shuffle poop?”
- The best parts about her job is that she is never finished learning… there is always an opportunity to learn more.
- You need a sense of humor, to be a good problem solver, want to learn, and own good pair of boots.
Am I right? About the only thing that doesn’t apply to parenting is the part where she says something with a smile. I mean, we definitely need a good pair of boots, what with all the LEGO pieces around! And I assume she has more feces to deal with, but get back to me when my new baby arrives and I’ll let you know.
We’ve all heard someone compare their kids to animals, and their home to a zoo; it’s a throwaway comment, made by people like me who have little idea what being a zookeeper is actually like. Now, after learning more about the job, it’s obvious that the comparison is pretty apt! It’s never meant to diminish Jenny’s career in the slightest. If anything, it’s meant to make parenting sound more difficult!
But either way, the important thing to remember is that when we joke about parenting being like working at a zoo, we’re not trying to mock zookeepers.
We’re doing it to insult our children.