Lessons Inside the Petting Zoo
Kids are funny.
Like when we told my two-year-old he would get to visit the petting zoo in my office parking lot, he responded by listing the animals he was interested in petting: an orange giraffe and a black owl. He was very specific. I suppose if it’s normal that there should be a petting zoo in my office parking lot in the first place, it shouldn’t be out of line to expect an orange giraffe and a black owl.
When he arrived, there were no orange giraffes, no black owls. Only goats, sheep, a mule, baby chicks, baby ducks, piglets, and I honestly don’t remember what else. But he wanted to pet them anyway. Or more accurately, he wanted to want to pet them. But when I led him to the gate, he had a slight change of heart. He liked the idea of a petting zoo, he enjoyed watching the bigger kids running around in there, but when it became real, he wasn’t feeling it.
For a while there I didn’t think it was gonna happen, but I finally convinced him to let me carry him in. Once inside the gate, he wanted to see daddy pet the sheep, and daddy can’t pet the sheep while carrying a toddler. So I got him to stand in the petting zoo all by himself through one of those parental technicalities. He watched as I pet the sheep. He watched as I pet the mule. He watched as I pet the goat. He wanted me to pick up a baby duck, but he didn’t want to touch it. It was only when he discovered the baby goats that he found a zoo animal he was willing to pet. It was a thrill and a delight, albeit a short one.
From there we walked in the direction of the pony rides, which were met with the same hesitation. He liked the idea of riding a pony, and even went so far as to tell me he wanted to ride one. But when our turn came he was finished before it started. So we watched them go round and round, commenting on how we liked the yellow one and the brown one. I gave it some time, then finally pulled a daddy-knows-best maneuver and put him on top of a pony before he knew what was happening. Once on and moving, his cries alternated from shrieks of delight to shouts of, “I scared!” When the latter began to outnumber the former, I yoinked him back off that pony as swift as I put him on it.
This is the target audience of the new Adcetera Top Goat app. You tell them what it is and they immediately have lofty expectations. They think they know what they want—until they get it and realize maybe they don’t want it after all. They can alternately love something and hate it at the same time. BUT—and possibly most important—they may not like the sheep or the mule, but they’re totally into the baby goat. So when you’re looking for a children’s book app, take my advice. Don’t search for Top Duck or Top Piglet, because the most approachable one is clearly Top Goat.