I didn't have to work today- a rare Saturday treat that marks the beginning of summer, when fewer people take standardized tests, and thus there is less work to be had. So I packed up my boys, hijacking Grandma, and off we went to the Great Big City and the Museum of Really Old Stuff. Specifically, we were off to see the dinosaurs!
Andy is currently a dinosaur FREAK. Everything is dinosaurs. If you want to reinforce behavior, use dinosaurs. Want to reward him? Cajol him? Comfort him? Try a dinosaur. We got a coupon from the Toys-R-Us Birthday Club. What did he pick out? More dinosaurs.
Joey never really gets into anything in particular for any length of time. We've gone through a Cars phase, and he still likes to go to bed with the Mr. Guinea Pig I made for him. He likes a little Pooh Bear that he pretends is Little Bear, and of course there is Octopus. But no real interest has taken hold of him the way Andy loves dinosaurs. Joey's interests are more kinetic than topical.
Anyway, we headed off into the sunrise to go see Dinosaurs. We made some plans on the way up to deal with meltdowns, tracking, lost children, lost Grandma. We figured we'd need to eat in the cafeteria, and discussed the needs for a quiet corner table. I had packed extra pull-ups for Andy, and extra clothes for everybody. We were off on our road trip, prepared for a day with an autistic child in a crowded, new place! The Smithsonian on a Saturday! (Anybody cringing yet?)
I was exceedingly proud of both of my guys. We had no meltdowns. No... wait.. let me repeat that for you! We had no meltdowns. None. Zero. Zip.
We managed to get a parking spot practically in front of the museum on the street- a feat unheard of in the modern world. We were obviously meant to be there today. So we park, feed the meter, and head inside. We head straight for the dinosaurs- which requires a ride up an escalator, This is an excellent start, because Joey loves escalators. Up we go, and since we have no camera (I rarely have a camera if I don't have a third set of hands to carry one), Grandma runs ahead of us (literally- I was shocked. Bad knees and all, off she sprinted!) so she can see Andy's face as he comes around the corner and sees his very first, real, live, in-person Dinosaur. I wish I had been able to see that face straight-on, too; but the squeal of delight ("T-RECTH!") will have to do for a mom. Joey was happy about it, too. After all, its big, and in a room full of nice handrails to track. He managed to get through the droves of tourists by tracking, without us losing sight of him before reigning him in on occasion. He even looked at some of the dinosaurs. But Andy... here was a child in Heaven. Had I left him there to live his life in that room, he would have exploded with joy. T-Rex, triceratops, allosaurus, stegasaurus, pteradons, even hadrosaurs. Mommy had to be taken by the hand and shown each wonder, then Grandma found for the same tour.
We tried to have lunch in the Fossil Cafe, but there was no room, so we finally gave up and went to the big cafeteria. They were only taking cash, so I had to locate an ATM, but all was well. We found a fairly out-of-the-way table where I could contain children, and they ate like champs. Both had two chicken strips, some fruit, and fries, and Andy even had a bite of my chicken curry sandwich, and declared it delicious.
We then decided to go up to see the mammals. I was disappointed. The old exhibit were diaramas, so you got a sense of the animals in their habitat. Besides, my great-uncle Watson made those diaramas. Now, they have the animals stuck in cases, most very high over your head, with no context at all. They already have a zoo, so I didn't see the point. Joey wanted to track the handrails, and ran ahead, and into someone. Not good.
Fortunately, the Discovery Room is not as popular as it was when I was little, no tickets needed, we just walked right in. It's very nicely set up, at least for us. There were some risers up to some windows and books, and then shelves with the hands-on stuff in them. Mom and I sat at the shelves, and when the boys wanted to engage, they came over to see what we had; when they wanted a break, they went over to teh window away from everything. They got to hold seasheels and starfish, play a drum, looks at things through a microscope, and even touch a crocodile's head! Fabulous stuff.
While the remodeling is on, the back corner by the Discovery Room is more dimly lit, and has a bench, but no people, since there's nothing there to see right now. Afte the excitement, we sat for a few minutes. All the other rooms were brightly lit, which helped Joey immensely; now the oasis of quiet let everyone regroup before being packed back up and heading home. Mom decided to stop and buy t-shirts, so we chased pigeons for a few minutes, then made it back, with our new shirts on, to the car just as the meter ran out. Perfecto.
It's a bit of work to take these guys out like this, but man, what a success. Can't beat that.