The Johnson family was going to the zoo. At least that was the plan. It was a beautiful, sunny Saturday, and they’d bought a family pass that they needed to use by the end of the month.
Unfortunately, they’d planned to leave an hour ago, and everyone still wasn’t ready. Tom had somehow lost a shoe. Nancy had purposely lost the hairbrush and refused to tell anybody where it was. Ralph was just waking up.
Mr. and Mrs. Johnson were doing their best to hurry their children along. Mr. Johnson was using a broom to clear stuff out from under Tom’s bed. “Is that a moldy sandwich? Tom, you aren’t supposed to eat in your room,” he said.
“Oh yeah. I forgot,” Tom said.
Mrs. Johnson was looking under couch cushions. “Nancy, if I don’t find the brush, I’ll still do your hair. I’ll just have to use a comb instead. That’ll take longer.”
“Don’t care,” Nancy said. She was lying on the floor and kicking her heels on the front door.
“Stop that, Nancy. I think I’m starting to get a bit of a headache,” Mrs. Johnson said.
“Don’t care,” Nancy said. She kicked harder.
Mrs. Johnson turned around. “Nancy! Where are your shoes?”
“Don’t care,” Nancy said.
Ralph suddenly began to wail. Nancy kicked the door even louder. Mrs. Johnson sighed and picked her up and carried her to the time-out step. Nancy began to shriek. Mrs. Johnson left her on the time-out step kicking the wall and shrieking.
“Ralph, what’s wrong?” Mrs. Johnson asked, crouching in front of the toddler and rubbing his back. “Do you want some breakfast?” Ralph sobbed and nodded.
Mrs. Johnson found the hairbrush behind the cereal box. She poured out some cereal for Ralph. Then she took some aspirin and started looking for Nancy’s shoes.
Meanwhile, Mr. Johnson was sweeping up the last of the odd assortment of things that was under Tom’s bed. “It looks like you have five more legos to put away and three socks to put in the laundry, but no shoe.” Mr. Johnson sighed and sat on the bed, which was strangely lumpy.
He pulled up the covers to discover an assortment of books and toys. He lifted up the pillow. “I found your shoe, Tom, and it looks like you have a few more things to put away,” Mr. Johnson said. Tom sighed.
Mrs. Johnson found the shoes under the couch. Nancy was still shrieking and hitting her heels on the wall. At this point the whole thing was more rhythmic and song-like. It sounded like some sort of battle chant.
Mrs. Johnson decided to worry about putting on Nancy’s shoes and brushing her hair after they arrived at the zoo. She put the shoes and brush in her purse. Time to get Ralph ready.
Half an hour later, they were all buckled in. Mr. Johnson was singing loudly with the radio and the kids were grumbling quietly at each other. They’d bundled themselves tightly in blankets insisting it was too cold.
The family drove peacefully for twenty minutes. “Oh no,” Mrs. Johnson said. “I forgot the zoo pass.”
They drove home. “While we’re here, everyone should use the restroom,” Mr. Johnson said.
Fifteen minutes later, Mrs. Johnson turned and looked suspiciously at the too-quiet backseat. She poked Tom’s blanket. It collapsed. “We have to go back,” she said. “We left Tom.”
Twenty minutes later, there was a loud noise and a terrible odor filled the car. “Ew. Ralph’s diaper is leaking all over his carseat,” Tom said. “That’s gross.” They went back.
“I’m going to have to put the seat cover through the wash,” Mrs. Johnson said. “And give Ralph a bath.”
“I guess we’re not going to the zoo today,” Mr. Johnson said.
“But I wanted to go to the zoo,” Tom said. He started to cry.
“Me too,” Nancy said. She cried too. Ralph wailed. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson looked at each other and sighed.