Monday, February 22, 2016

Different Worlds

I was talking with a young single coworker Friday night as we left work. He asked if I had big plans for the weekend. I told him we were doing pinewood derby one day, finishing a school report on the Polio vaccine, and if the barley and hops gods smiled on me, I'd get a few beers in while watching the game on Sunday. His response was one of shock, and I could hear it in his voice as he said "we live very different lives, friend!"

His weekend was obviously going to be the one of a young bachelor in the city, I'll let you imagine the details, but it's safe to say Polio was not a disease he was worried about, and a beer or two wouldn't even cover the opening round. 

I wouldn't trade with him though, and while he's enjoying his youth, he has no idea how much he may one day enjoy the other side of the coin with a weekend like the one I had.

He has never experienced the joy of seeing his son's face light up as his pinewood derby car which he labored over in frantic half hour sessions with him crosses the finish line. He has never watched his daughter learn something new and come to him with the look of new knowledge in her eyes as she relays the facts about polio and the vaccine that changed the world. He has never sat down to watch a football game, and had his toddler climb into his lap, grab his face between his two tiny hands and give him a kiss, making all the noise of the stadium melt away and the beer in his hands a less important part of the experience. 

He doesn't know the joy of waking up every day to a person he shares every detail of his life with, the unique passion that is married love, the soothing effect of talking about his day with someone who knows about the day and the week and the year before. 

These are the things he doesn't know. These are the things that sound mundane until you live them. These are the things I traded my weekends single and partying for, and one day I hope he finds the dad life to be as fulfilling as I do. But how does one explain the wonder of parenting to someone who is not yet a parent?

We had a laugh about our different lives, and my closing words were "one day, you'll see..." We both smiled and waved as we climbed into our cars, he into his coupe', me, my four door sedan, and pulled out to enjoy our "very different lives".

Whatever they may contain, enjoy your weekends, and know I'll be enjoying mine as well, even if I am covered in school paste and sawdust.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Dinosaurs at the Museum

The first place my kids always want to go when we visit the museum is the Dinosphere. The big flashy main attraction may be the T-Rex battle between two Tyrannosaurs and a Triceratops, but we have a special connection to Leonardo, the mummified dinosaur. Before ever visiting, he was the first thing we ever learned about what the Museum had to offer.
After reading up on Leonardo, we made our first visit and made a beeline past the giant croc, past the brilliant color changing sky above the battling dinos, past the sensory stations featuring fossils of various specimen and directly to the glass case displaying one of paleontology's greatest discoveries ever. I think my kids heard "mummy" and thought "Egyptian mummy." However, a dinosaur mummy couldn't be wrapped and artificially preserved, so we got to discuss how nature instead did the job of preserving Leonardo's skin, scales, tendons and even stomach contents for scientists to study today. 

After getting a good look behind the glass, we all moved on to the sensory stations to learn more about Leonardo. We found out about his diet, details of where he was found, and more about the process of natural mummification. While the kids were picking up all this information, I had to play the knowledgeable dad role and read the info panels much faster, so I could nod and say "I know, right?" and then provide a little more info when they shared their new wonder with me.

After an all-too-short visit, we headed home, to a waiting science fair project. And what does one do for a science fair project after seeing Leonardo the Mummified Dinosaur, but an epic presentation on mummified dinosaurs. Books and information were limited on other specimens, but through persistence and perseverance, we managed to find enough content to fill a complete tri-fold. Not only did the Dinosphere provide the inspiration for the project, but the excitement as well. And if my kids are excited and inspired when we walk out the doors of the Children's Museum, then I say mission accomplished! 

This post originally appeared on The Children's Museum of Indianapolis' blog. Take a look to see what amazing things are currently going on over at the worlds greatest children's museum!