In an effort to cut child care costs and spend as much of her first years with Alaina as possible, my wife and I re-configured our work schedules and reduced our hours so that one of us is usually home with her. An unfortunate side effect of this is that that is much less time when we are BOTH home with her. Kayla now spends much of her weekend working and participating in church activities so when presented with a day last week when everybody was home during the day we took advantage by spending the day at Mystic Aquarium.
With some advance planning and a bit of time the aquarium can actually be a very educational experience. There is an Exploration Center that streams a live video feed from the submarine E/V Nautilus, a Titantic exhibit, and lots of hands-on activities focusing on different ecosystems and environmental awareness.
Most of that we skipped so that we could fit in lunch before daddy had to go to work, but I did manage to learn a few things over the course of the day:
1. Alaina is very well behaved in the car with me, even on longer rides, but 45 minutes is beyond her ability to resist repeatedly kicking her mother’s seat in front of her or doing everything she could possibly think of to annoy her sister seated next to her.
2. A good portion of the aquarium’s exhibits are outside. If it seems like a brilliant notion that clouds and light rain will keep most other people away, others will come to the same conclusion.
3. For all the negative publicity that Sea World has received in recent months, I still think there is good that can come from maritime parks. I’m not impressed with Sea World’s efforts, but there are many other aquariums and oceanography institutes that participate in thousands of rescue, rehabilitation and release efforts. Zoos and aquariums need to be held to very high standards of care for the animals they display, but just because not all do doesn’t mean that they are all bad. I don’t find it necessary for animals to put on shows for me to appreciate them.
4. Penguins are pretty damn cute
5. We need more days like this. Both children seemed to enjoy themselves quite a bit but finding things to do with both of them isn’t always easy. They are twelve years apart in age but that gap is going to seem larger as they get older. We have a small window of time that we need to take advantage of as much as we can.