Psst. It’s poo!
Last Saturday, I took the boys to Homosassa Springs, a state park we’d never been to before (click here if you’d like to see its web page). Their mom was taking the day off at home, so it was just me and the boys heading out for the adventure.
Homosassa is an interesting park. It’s kind of a cross between a state park and a zoo, with both natural florida and cages with alligators, hippos, raptors and more.
The best part was what they call the “goldfish bowl”. It’s a small building that extends below the water level near the springs. The top floor is unimpressive, but walk downstairs and you’ll find yourself in a large room with glass walls, giving you a great underwater view of the creatures near the spring.
A manatee glided close as we were down there, followed closely by a small cluster of striped fish. We ooh’ed and ahh’ed as it swam near. The kids, along with the rest of the crowd, clustered against the glass, pointing and shouting. The manatee rolled upside down and pressed its back against the glass,
Inside, the crowd went crazy. Kids pointed and shouted. Adults snapped pictures.
The manatee apparently had an itchy back. It swam along the glass, scratching its back as it went. The cloud of little striped fish (Sheepshead) trailed along behind it.
After a few revolutions around the room, my five year-old detached himself from the crowd to come talk to me. “Daddy,” he said, horrified. “The fish are eating it!”
“No, they’re not.” I said. “It’s fine. Don’t worry.”
“But they are,” he protested, pointing at the back of the manatee. “They are! Look!”
The fish were, in fact, pecking at a fairly good-sized mass protruding from the manatee’s backside. I bent down and put my mouth close to my son’s ear. “That’s poo,” I whispered. “The manatee is poo’ing and the fish are eating it.”
“No it’s not! No, it’s – Eewww! THAT’S-”
“Shh,” I interrupted, hoping to avoid the chaos that such an announcement would produce. “It’s a secret.”
He looked at me suspiciously, then nodded and went back to the crowd. I saw him whisper to his brother, then to another little boy. The secret travelled quickly around the crowd, whispered from kid to kid. Some laughed. Others made faces. All of them shared the secret with whoever was closest to them.
The other adults had the same reaction I did. They tried to hush up their kdis, tried to keep things under control – but it was too late.
It’s a lot harder to quiet a whisper than it is a shout…