The smiling boy in the yellow shirt was looking at the tiger in the cage.
He was happy that he was on the other side of the iron bars and safe from the tiger’s big teeth.
The sign said “Africa” on it and he knew that was where a lot of tigers ran around in the woods like they owned it.
He knew that was silly because he had a Christmas present video that told him the Lion was the King of the Jungle and he bet the tigers didn’t even come close.
His father told him that the Lion’s teeth were lots bigger and only the real old-time tigers had bigger teeth in days when men were just beginning.
Jimmy was thinking about teeth a lot these days because he was losing them faster than he ever thought possible.
At least he was getting a lot of one dollar bills from the tooth fairy who paid off each and every time just like the Mickey Mouse clock in his Disney themed bedroom with stuff that he was getting too old to play with any longer.
Jimmy also had a video of the old-time animals that roamed the Earth at a time they called “The Ice Age”. It sure did seem weird that the ground was all covered with ice all the time in that long-ago time but the story was lots of fun and he had watched it more times than he could possibly remember after all this time.
Next month, he was due to go to a real school, not the kitchen table with either mom or dad telling him stuff that they wanted him to remember even when he thought it was downright silly and dumb like what most grown-ups thought was real important for some reason he didn’t quite understand as yet.
They were constantly repeating stuff about “Always look two ways before you cross the street.” or something even sillier like “Don’t run with scissors because you can get hurt.” He couldn’t remember any time that he ever ran with scissors or crossed the street without holding somebody’s hand so he was confused about that sort of thing because it seemed like something he would never do in any situation.
Now they wanted him to count backwards like it was something everybody did like it was normal and such.
Jimmy had never heard anybody ever count backwards except on the video about a spaceship going up into space and a lady that counted backwards to bring it all to the beginning like when you had to rewind a video tape.
It didn’t seem to him to be all that important to know how to count backwards when it hard enough just to count forward and remember all the words.
This visit to the zoo was his last outing of the summer and he was looking forward to packing his backpack and sharpening his number two pencils for his first day in school.
He had asked his mom why they called it a “number two” pencil because he always thought “number two” was pooping in the bathroom where big boys always went when they had to go real bad.
His mother thought about it and told him that the stuff inside the pencil was called lead and he should never eat it because it made you real sick. Anyway, she went on to explain that the lead was given a number to tell the boy or girl using it how dark it would look on the paper. She told him the threes and the fours were too light and the number one was way too soft and tended to smear when you touched it by accident right after writing it on the page.
It all seemed silly to him because if lead was bad for you why would they put it in a pencil for boys and girls to get hurt and who was the one that decided a number two was the best when they hadn’t tried all the rest.
His new teacher was a really pretty young lady and she had a smile that made him feel all good inside.