Sunday, April 30, 2006

Go Fish

On Thursday, my Mom's Club ventured to Long Beach to the Aquarium of the Pacific, and I figured this was a prime time to take the Tenster since a) she was free! and b) we were getting in at the drastically reduced group rate. The only bummer to the plan was that we had just been in that exact spot the night before for the Wiggles concert, and the group was meeting at 10am...which given the vaguries of Southern California traffic meant that we had to be up bright and early to make it. However, since my kid spent 40 minutes being totally enchanted by a tank of $.19 goldfish at Wal Mart last weekend, I figured this was going to be well worth the effort.

Tenley felt differently.

First, she was not at all sure she liked being woken up before 9am. Particularly when she had been out partying the night before and had had great difficulty relaxing to go to sleep. I was kind of hoping she would nod back off on the drive (which was remarkably easy), but no luck. She perked up after we arrived and she met more of the other kids who were running around on the lawn out in front. Running around on the lawn with the big kids was good, but then she saw the sight that caused her to turn on her selective toddler hearing: pidgeons. Dozens of very well fed pidgeons the were milling around on the picnic tables on the far side of the grassy expanse. She took off straight for those poor birds at a dead run, seemingly oblivious to the hoarse shouts of her poor mother as I trailed after her. She terrorized the birds for a few minutes before I forced her back to the gathering spot away from the tables/junglegyms.

When we were taken in to the Aquarium, our guy took us out to the touch pools in the back since the skies were threatening to rain and he wanted to make sure we had a chance to do that. Tenley felt this was a good decision, because what she saw were huge pools of water and other people her size hanging into them head first. As soon as I took her out of her stroller she headed for the nearest Sting Ray tank like she had heard her name called on the Price is Right. I managed to get her sweater off of her before she plunged her hands into the warm water and happily began splashing. Then she saw the Rays and the excited pointing and grunting began. Several came by her, but were too deep for her to reach. Finally one was up at the surface and she was able to touch him. She giggled, stood up and clapped, and then threw herself back at the tank and began squealing shrilly and batting her hands in the water in hopes of attracting another one. We spent a good thirty minutes there, with Ten refusing to leave her spot as she played in the water between Ray touches, and waving at the ones who would stick a wing out of the water by the rocks opposite her. Eventually I dragged her away (literally) and then tried to induce hypothermia by holding her soaking wet torso up in front of this giant shark head with a fan in it's mouth to dry off with. Finally I just put her sweater on her and took her inside.

And that was where Tenley's interest in this outing ended. I figured if she loved plain old goldfish, wait until she saw tropical fish, sharks, and octopuses! But no, she was bored. She pointed at brain coral and said "ball"; but the leafy sea dragons, lobsters, seals, otters and the giant sea turtle who came up to the glass right in front of her and just sat there blowing bubbles and bunting his nose at her were apparently uninteresting. There was a tank of small fuzzy crabs and almost transparent prawns that she thought was pretty fabulous and spent a good 15 minutes with her nose pressed to the tank babbling and pointing at things....but that was it. I was rather disappointed.

We did make the pre-requisite stop in the gift shop on our way out, where Tenley picked out a package of foam sea creature shapes to play with in the bath (they're great- they stick to the side of the tub when wet) and I got her a counting board book, "Over In the Ocean In a Coral Reef" by Marianne Berkes (it has really cool clay polymer illustrations by Jeanette Canyon). Then we saddled up for the long drive home, which once again went very quickly, which was good because it meant that Tenley continued the nap she started a block away from the Aquarium and I got one too. I don't know if she dreampt of fish, but I did...and the smile on her face when she touched that Sting Ray.

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