We Are the Zoo
Lauren Becker

Our mom calls us her three monkeys. She says not the ones with their hands over their eyes, ears and mouths, especially the mouths. Casey, Mason and me aren't sure what she means, except that we're loud. When she calls us monkeys, we laugh loud, and so does our mom. Sometimes we're loud and she tells us to quiet down because she has a headache. She doesn't call us monkeys when she has a headache.
Our mom has a headache a lot and we try to be quiet. When she doesn't have a headache, we chatter and show off and climb trees and do other monkey things. All the other kids say how she is the coolest and prettiest mom. She named us names that could be boys or girls. Casey is nine and is a girl. Mason is seven and a half and is a boy. I just turned six and I am a boy. My name is Leo. I am pretty sure this is just a boy's name, but she says her best friend when she was growing up was a girl named Leo.
Our mom doesn't have another job besides being a mom. Our dad is a lawyer and our mom used to be a lawyer, too, but now her job is being a mom. Our dad says he started to like her when she beat him in a court case. She says she'll do it again someday. She says she likes being a mom better for now. Being a mom is a big job, she tells us and her friend Sonia and her sister who is named Aunt Ashley and our dad. She goes grocery shopping and takes us to soccer. She feeds us three times a day, plus snacks. She washes our clothes and picks up our toys, and she tells the ones she tells that she is exhausted. She laughs but it sounds different from the kind of laugh you laugh when something is funny.
Casey says she wants to be a lawyer like our mom when she grows up. Our dad says he's a lawyer, too, and why doesn't she want to be like him. Casey says duh, because she's a girl. Our dad asks Mason and me if we want to be lawyers like him. Mason says yes and I say so, too. For now I just like being monkeys with Mason and Casey, but I don't want my dad to feel bad.
Our mom takes us to the zoo sometimes, but not too much because she says then it wouldn't be special. Our friend Troy goes to the zoo a lot because he has a babysitter all the time and they do whatever he wants. He went two times last week and he thinks he's so great. He tells us about the monkeys and the difference between apes and gorillas, but we know already. We tell him we don't need to go to the zoo all the time because our mom says we are the zoo and he shuts up because he is just a regular boy and always will be.

Lauren Becker is the author of IF I WOULD LEAVE MYSELF BEHIND: STORIES.

Detail of painting on main page courtesy of Monica Blatton.

Read LB's postcard, and see more of her work in the archive.

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