Friday, November 13, 2009

A Really Good Day

I’ve had a lot of good days. For years, I’ve called them, perhaps in deference to my love of ESPN’s “Sportscenter” my “Top 10 Days.” There isn’t a formal list, and I’m not really even sure how many of them there are, but I know that I could probably make a list, and I know what would be on it were I to do so.

On Veteran’s Day, we all went to the Bishop Museum in Honolulu to visit the new “Dinosaurs Unleashed!” exhibit, as part of the Boyo’s birthday celebration. Although the twin’s birthday is not for another week, we’ve been trying to give the kids each a day to themselves. The Girl had hers over a week ago, and the Bear had her day last Friday, but this was the Boyo’s big day. We scheduled it on Veteran’s Day as the Wife would be off of work and we’d have the chance to go an include some of our friends. And so it was with great enthusiasm that we all descended on the Museum and their gigantic animatronic Dinosaurs, and their very nicely put together exhibits,

We chose this as the Boyo’s activity because of his natural, passionate and vital interest in Dinosaurs. He is an incredibly curious kid, and has shown a voracious appetite for learning about animals over the years, and Dinosaurs over the last six months or so. It is certainly an obsession that I not only remember from my own youth, but encourage in him, as Dinosaurs are just freaking cool. I got him the BBC “Walking with Dinosaurs” documentary last week from the library, and he enjoyed that as much if not more than the usual “kid stuff” I usually get for them. Sitting on the couch with him leaning against me and watching the Ornithocheirus and the family of baby Diplodocus’s fight for survival was good stuff. When his sisters got scared, they covered their eyes, but the Boyo stood strong, watching it all with the wonder of a child and the slightly narrowed eyes of a scientist gathering evidence. I’m enjoying this phase, as I’m still that same kid sitting on the edge of the couch, at least as it relates to Dinosaurs.

Walking around with him and his sisters and our friends, I really got a sense of the genuine joy that he garners from learning. We went through the exhibit, which was incredible, with life-size Dinosaurs, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, a Triceratops and child, a Parasaurolophous, and a variety of other creatures, some of which we could control robotically, and others that we could touch, and a variety of actual fossils that we could study.

He was excited as we went through, eyes wide the whole time. As we walked in, he rushed towards the first fossilized display. A very nice Local woman who works at the Museum, “Grandma Rose” her badge read, said to me, seeing the look in the Boyo’s eyes, “You’re gonna have a great time, yeah…” And she was right.

The exhibit was perhaps less vast in size than visitors to the Natural History Museum in NYC (where another of my best days took place) might expect, but each corner provided absolute fascination and wonder for my son. He was very much in his element, walking among these Dinosaurs, none of whom seemed to phase him, even those who were robotically designed to roar when we were least expecting it… He seemed to look at their roars with almost Scientific curiosity.

He basically led a clinic while we walked about. As I asked him questions about what we were seeing, he not only knew the answers, but also expanded on them, where appropriate, including:

“This one is a herbivore, Daddy. It has small teeth that grind up plants. The carnivore teeth are longer for ripping meat.”

Or, when answering my question about what Stegosaurus’ plates were for, he tapped his finger on the side of his head in thought, and replied, “For cooling off, showing off, and to scare off other dinosaurs.”

When I asked him why the Parasaurolophus species moved around in large herds, he replied, “For protection. And to be a family.”

He’s just four, at least until next week.

We enjoyed the entire museum and ended up purchasing a membership before we left. They have a volcano, and a Hawaiian and Polynesian hall that includes a life-size Blue whale model, cross-sectioned to show what it’s insides look like, and an entire hall dedicated to the Royal Hawaiian Kahili feather standards. I recommend checking out their site: to learn more.

In the end, I had a lot of fun with him and with his sisters and our friends. After seeing the Volcano and the Dinosaurs and walking around and dropping a not unexpectedly large amount of money in the gift shop, we sat down for lunch in the courtyard. After about ten minutes of some eating and far more playing with the new dinosaur things, the Boyo came over and sat on my lap. I asked him if he was having fun, and he nodded, his mouth full of pizza. I asked him if he liked the Dinosaurs, and he nodded again.

And then, his chewing completed, he said something I loved.

“Daddy, I want to go see the Dinosaurs again with just you.”

And so we did, just the boys, and it was even better the second time.

There are a lot of times he knows just what to say. He’s an amazing kid, as all of my kids are, but they are very much all amazing in their own ways. He’s so inquisitive and has a mind that seems to recall everything. He’s funny and can at times be incredibly sweet to his sisters, when they are not bothering him. He shares with others without reservation, most of the time. And he’s more often than not the one who shares a moment with me when his sisters are throwing tantrums. He’ll just meet my eyes as he calmly reads a book or plays with ‘Blue doggie’ or builds his track-cities, or studies his Dinosaurs, and his look will say very clearly, “It’s ok Dad…I know.”

He’s the one who, should I raise my voice, will ask me, “Daddy, why are you yelling?” And he’s usually right, and I have to check myself. He’s the one who, when he’s tired, says, “Can I go to bed now?” He’s the one who, lately more than ever, will go out of his way to share something with his little sister without it being suggested for him to do so. He has such a sweet disposition and is really growing since he started school.

Our day at the Museum was a great one. All three of the kids had a good time, and since it was the Boyo’s special day, the girls thanked him for including them, which was very sweet of them. It was one of those days that you look at and you just know that it has potential to be one of those things that the kids remember later on. They are after all still very young, but I know that I will remember it and I’m pretty sure the Boyo will too.

Kid’s mind is like a sponge. And it was after all, a really, really good day.