What’s the big deal with animal sounds? – Stories of Motherhood fails, farms, parks, and railroads

The last couple days have been eventful. On Friday, I took the kids to the local Emma Prusch Farm & Park and today, we visited the Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad in Los Gatos. Along the way, I also experienced some tender moments with TJ, a ‘what’s the big deal’ ironic space, and a motherhood fail. Read on. Emma Prusch Farm & Park:

I didn’t think much about driving here (except that it was quick), but now that I think about it, I am impressed that there was all this green and a beautiful farm and park within a short distance from where we live, right here in the 10th largest city in the U.S. I have to hand it out to San Jose for building a great network of city parks and recreational facilities that are easily accessible and very well maintained.

We got here a little after 10:00 a.m. There were plenty of parking spaces available. I was a little flummoxed though because I wasn’t exactly sure where to go. I figured one of the entrances looked like the main one and that was probably the place to go but then it said something about riding lessons and I wondered if that was perhaps the entrance for those students. I drove up to their vegetable garden but that didn’t look right so I turned around and eventually parked in the main parking lot and asked a woman who was leaving where to go. She pointed to the entrance I had originally seen. Thanking her and unloading the kids, off we went.

TJ says “hand’:

As I turned the stroller toward the entrance and started strolling it, TJ who was walking next to me, reached for my hand and said, “Mommy, hand” and I was so beautifully awestruck by this. I immediately stopped, bent down and asked him if he had actually just said the word, ‘hand’. He confirmed matter-of-factly. I was like whaaah?! TJ has been slowly picking up a lot of words and I didn’t know he could say ‘hand’. How wonderful!!. Lovingly holding his hand, we proceeded to the entrance. Meanwhile, E was asleep in her carseat in the stroller.

Once inside, we were welcomed by a beautiful garden, an office to our right, another small house-like building with restrooms and a vending machine to the left. We walked to the path leading right and immediately saw roosters and hens everywhere (that’s what I think they are called. I am ignorant of the different varieties of poultry or the specific species) which was quite nice. We hung around this space for a little bit taking pictures and getting a feel for the space. Then we proceeded to a gated area with some animals like rabbits in cages. Once out of this space, I saw a huge red barn (seen in the picture above). We went in but because E was in the stroller and is not quite 3 months yet, given the strong smells (which didn’t bother us but for an infant as young as E, I just didn’t want to take any risks with air quality), I decided to do a quick tour only. TJ did get to see goats, pigs, cows, and some horses toward the back giving lessons, but we left within a few minutes of this.

What’s the big deal about animal sounds?

Having grown up in India having seen pigs, cows, horses, goats and even a few chickens and roosters all around me whether it was during visits to my grandmothers, the small towns we visited, or even the big city in which I grew up, I am never in awe of these animals. I mean I have a live and let live approach to them and I am sure they feel the symbiotic liking from/toward me. I am neutral about them. I just never consciously thought of them unless a herd of buffaloes were blocking the road on my way to work or school (in India) which was super annoying and not in the least charming or something worth stopping and admiring over. When you see something on a regular basis, somehow the beauty is lost in the mundane.

These animals and their sounds however are big deals for kids in the U.S., as evidenced by the infinite number of books and songs dedicated to the sounds these animals make (seriously!! why are so many kids’ books about these domestic animals and their sounds? Why is it pertinent for kids to know what sounds a sheep makes, for example? How is any of this going to help them in life unless they want to be in animal husbandry or farming or some sort of agriculture-related field and even then, surely they can learn about animal sounds as adults!) and the allure of a ‘petting zoo’ (an expression I didn’t know existed until I came to the U.S.). In fact, far from petting, growing up in India, (depending on where), you actually learn to shoo them away as nuisance. The story is different now. The irony is, today as a mother of two kids growing up in the U.S., Indian or not, whether I am interested in this or not (I am neutral, as I said), I have to suck it up for their sake. In fact, I find myself puffed with pride when I rattle off the names of different animals and TJ is able to make their respective sounds. Sigh…we set such low standards for the content of knowledge in our kids at this age. (I know this is a heavy, discussion-worthy statement. Post for another day.)

Farm 1.jpg
My little strolling buddy. TJ wanted to help.

As we left the barn, TJ insisted on pushing the stroller for a few seconds. From here, we headed to the playground. He had a fun time on the slides and even did the tunnel slides by himself this time. Multiple times. I was very proud of him. So far, he has only done them at the Happy Hollow Zoo and while seated on my lap. This was the first time he did it alone. He was really proud of himself too as was clearly visible in the huge smile he had on his face when he got off the slide.

At the playground, we ran into, surprise, surprise, B-aunty and her sons! We hung out with them for some time as the youngest kid played with J for a few minutes and encouraged him to get on one of the bigger tunnel slides that TJ did with some initial hesitation. I wondered if he would do it but I guess he was nudged into doing it by B-aunty’s son (interestingly, the kid got scared and decided not to do it but did push TJ into doing it). When he came down the slide, because the ground was further from where his legs could reach, TJ fell down on all fours but stood up right after like nothing had happened. Aahh..this kid is growing up too soon and I am not just saying that. Each day he grows, he leaps.

All in all, this was a fun farm and park to visit. I had a good time with TJ and E who had moved into the K’tan on me after the first 15 minutes in the stroller and was snuggly sleeping so everything went well and we had a great morning.

The drama was to unleash later as we stood in a McDonald’s drive-through line and E started bawling loudly and cried almost inconsolably till we got home because she was hungry. Seated in the driver’s seat, stuck in a drive-through lane, there was nothing I could really do except do some hissing, buzzing, shushing sounds, tap a random pencil I found in the car on her car seat, clap, and sing to her…sigh…wasn’t a very happy time. – Except – an amazing thing happened during the time we were in the line – TJ kept calling me as I was maneuvering into the extremely narrow drive-through lane. The conversation went something like this:

TJ: Mawmy….mawmy…(excitedly)
Me: What? (not looking back, eyes on the lane trying to drive)
TJ: Mawmy…mawmy…mawmy…
Me: What? (voice slightly raised)
Me: WHAT?!! (loudly, maybe even yelling a little – blame the stupid line)
I turn around

I see TJ holding out three fingers, his index, middle, and ring fingers in a nonverbal sign for three (for two, we do the victory sign). This was the first time he was able to do it. He had tried but failed in the past but this time he had carefully bent his thumb and little fingers together and was proudly holding out his three. I could have cried. My child was showing me his latest accomplishment and I had just yelled at him (okay I did yell out the WHAT!). Major motherhood fail. Sigh!

Billy Jones Wildcat Railroad


I chanced upon this one day while looking up Yelp for railway rides for kids. TJ is obsessed with Thomas the Tank Engine and pretty much everything trains, trucks, and cars. In that sense at least, he is a stereotypical boy. We considered visiting on Memorial Day weekend but figured everyone and their dad would be there that weekend and so chose a random one (I guess not entirely random – It is Father’s Day weekend).

The place is relatively easy to get to. Our GPS took us straight to the park that houses the train ride. It is right next to the Vasona State Park in Los Gatos. The Railroad organization is a non-profit and runs with the support of the cities/governments of Los Gatos and Santa Clara. The tickets are $2 and kids aged 2 and under are free.

The engine is a real steam engine with all the right bells and whistles. Literally. The steam is real as is the fun. It is a pleasant 8-10 minutes ride on small tracks that run through the State Park. Along the way, pleasant people who are at the park for other activities (picnics, biking, strolling, etc) stop and wave at the kids as the train passes them by. They also have a carousel for $2, a small gift shop and some food (hot dogs, ice-cream, etc.) for purchase. I loved the place and the whole idea of it. I appreciate community efforts like these even if run by an organization. It is a non-profit venture and what a neat one!

The park is absolutely beautiful with vast expanse of greens to run in.

I almost fancied myself a Maria wannabe doing The hills are alive with the sound of music repertoire complete with my short hair and baby-in-Ktan in tow.

One could engage in so many activities at the surrounding park, play frisbee, or wind permitting, badminton, a sport I used to be really, really good at but haven’t played since College (in India) days. We will definitely be back even if that means packing picnic chairs, my badminton rackets, birdies (or shuttle cocks as we say in India), picnic basket, blanket, nursing cover, diaper bags, strollers, etc. etc. and of course a couple extra sets of hands to carry them all.

Published by Suchitra

I am a former Communication Studies professor turned stay-at-home-mom (SAHM) to two multiracial kids. I write about my adventures in parenting and living a multicultural life with my family. Blogger at: www.thephdmama.com Follow me: @thephdmama

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