The Miseducation of Ali Webb

A few months ago, Alfie and I were enjoying the delights of the Melbourne Zoo, in  particular a brand-spanking new born baby gorilla.

The gorilla was cradled in its mum’s arms enjoying a little cuddle. Alfie was smitten. Then I went and fucked up the situation.

“Look Alfie! Look at that sweet little baby monkey with its mummy in their nest. How lovely. You know that baby monkey has only just come out of an egg. And look, here it is now lapping up the sunshine.”

I had a feeling what I was saying was wrong, but I couldn’t quite figure it out. A gentleman with a kid in a Baby Bjorn and a camel-pak water bag next to me was kind enough to explain the situation:

“It’s not a monkey. It’s a gorilla.”

Thanks dude.

“And a gorilla does not come from an egg – it is neither reptile or bird. It is a mammal.”

Yep, gotcha. Thanks dude.

“It’s all there (pointing at a brochure in a waterproof plastic pocket), in the kid’s hand out.”

Shut up.

As Alfie and I journeyed around the Zoo I tried to figure out where my crap knowledge of gorillas came from.

So. Gorillas and monkeys are kind of similar. Gorillas sit in nests. Nests are naturally associated with birds. Birds lay eggs.


I worked it out. My pop culture mind takes over whenever it comes to conversations about the world and our natural environment.

Monkey. Fucking. Magic.

Monkey was born from an egg on a mountain top.

Dammit. But it now made sense where my insane ‘monkey-nest-egg’ theory had come from.

So this leads me to my latest discussions with three-year-old Alfie. We picked up Ice Age on DVD from the shop. I told Alfie it had dinosaurs in it and was really cool.

So we watched it and there were NO fucking dinosaurs. But, there was a mammoth. Which lead to a serious of questions:

“What is Ice Age’. Gah!
“Can I see a mammoth at the zoo?”
“What is extinct?”
“Why aren’t there any dinosaurs in the Ice Age?”
“Why do the tigers want to eat the baby?”
“Where’s the baby’s mummy?”
“What is died?”

All of these questions lead me to explaining, well fudging, my way through evolution. And the questions got deeper:

“Mum, am I a monkey?”
“My dad’s a monkey, isn’t he, coz he has a hairy face?”
“Is Cheef Dog a mammoth?”
“Do mammoths have doodles?”

And so on…

Why is this so hard? Am I the only parent fumbling around with the theories of life and evolution with a three year old?

I got really frustrated, mostly with myself at not knowing all the answers, so I wrapped the whole evolution conversation in a puff.

“Jesus Christ Alfie! I don’t have all the answers.. Let’s just take our time on this one and watch Ice Age again.”

To which he responded:

“What’s Jesus Christ?”

Kill. Me.

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