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Sue the Dinosaur at St. Louis Science Center – Destination Review

Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Olivia came home from preschool a few weeks ago asking if we could go see the dinosaur at the Science Center. “Sure” I said somewhat surprised that she had any interest in the life-sized animatronics display which she has skirted two dozen times in the past; however I had mistakenly assumed the permanent crustaceous period display is what she was referring too. Evidently a boy in her class had been talking up Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex on special exhibit and this information received via preschool playground chatter was a first too my knowledge about Sue traveling from Chicago’s Field Museum to our Science Center. I had to check online to verify the fact and sure enough I am at the stage in my life in which my five year old enlightens me to the most current social attractions around town.

This week’s daddy day, my mom (Bubie) accompanied Olivia, Hailey, Elizabeth and me to see Sue. Surprisingly, there was a bunch to do for preschool age kiddos at this special traveling exhibit. The main attraction, Sue the T-Rex, huge with teeth the size of railroad spikes, “Scary, but not really, ‘cause its exstink,” Olivia recanted later, was dominantly displayed front and center. Then there were a bunch of activities to hold the little princesses interest. An archaeological dig where 4” paint brushes were handy for discovering prehistoric bones covered in rubber mulch. A sifting station where real petrified bone fragments had been re-cast in stone, the goal was to scrape away the plastered stones with toothbrushes to expose the ancient bones. There were several craft stations for creating dino helmets, dino hatchlings, dino necklaces, and dino art. Also a smart beat the clock game, the objective was to puzzle together bone shaped pieces magnetized to a vertical T-Rex and if the light-bar timer terminated before the puzzle was complete the game demagnetized resulting in all the pieces falling off. There were a couple I-Spy through the eyes of a dinosaur mini exhibits. And a few hands on hydraulic mechanically operated simulators illuminating how the strong jaws, the heavy tail and the mini arms would have worked on a T-Rex.

Family with Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

Family with Sue the Tyrannosaurus Rex

The exhibit kept my kiddos actively immersed for over an hour, one bummer thou, Elizabeth was bored and cranky not much for her to do and confined to her stroller for that length of time. Besides her slightly agitated demeanor, it was a great visit. How do I know? Within ten minutes of getting home, Hailey was asking me when we were going back to see Sue the Dinosaur at the Science Center.

Padded Answers

Once a month, for a week straight, Kim leaves a bag of maxi pads on the master bath floor wedged between the trash can and a Dora toilet training seat. Not that I mind, I rarely use the tiny five by five cell of a bathroom. Contrarily, the kiddos prefer utilizing the petite lavatory with its compact low to the ground toilet over the spacious, newly remodeled guest/kid bathroom which sports a manly elongated bowl.

One morning, about thirty something days ago, while I was getting dressed for work, Hailey curiously wandered into ‘mommy’s bathroom.’ I was expecting to hear the normal clamor of a two year old preparing to utilize the potty however this was not the case. Instead I was challenged to audibly decipher; a caged gerbil scurrying? Masking tape unraveling? Beanbag body-slamming? I poked my head into the bathroom to find Hailey diving into the feminine hygiene bag, retrieving (in her opinion) gigantic foamy stickers, pealing the sticky paper from the super absorbent pads and reassuringly slapping them down to any object within reach. One on the tub, one on the cabinet, one on the floor, one on the shower curtain and one on herself. “Those aren’t stickers honey.” I removed the one from her belly and stuck it on the counter, leaving the rest of her morning art project for mommy to see.

Forward to this past weekend; during one of Olivia’s numerous post-already-been-tucked-into-bed bathroom reprieves asked, “What are dose (those) daddy?” pointing to the bag of off-brand Kotex.

Not exactly prepared to explain the whole menstruation thing I panicked, “Uh…um… Those are mommy’s… diapers.”

She gave me a look of disbelief, “mommy’s diapers?” Her inquisitive face expressed; what does mommy need diapers for?

“Yes sweetie, sometimes mommy needs diapers.”

The thought of it confounded her, “For bed time?” Olivia only wears diapers at night.

I started a long winded rambling explanation of mommy’s cycle using words like puberty, ovulation and fertilization. I droned on, babbling about natural comparisons to phases of the moon, all the while avoiding the details of painful cramping and blood loss which is really the purpose of the pad. After a minute or so of monotone egg-headish lecturing, Olivia sensed my elusive banter and cut me short, “We’ll talk about that later daddy.”

Once again I have made a parental mistake. Why couldn’t I have said, ‘those are to absorb blood.’ I know she needs the truth no matter how messy, instead I gushed around the subject and now she isn’t going to trust me with divulging important information in the future. I need to be, want to be, the person that she can trust and ask anything. Now she is going to rely on getting information second-hand on the ‘streets’ from her buddies at preschool. Not that her little friends aren’t well informed, most mornings while dropping Olivia off at school, I overhear their light breakfast conversation pertaining to current events such as; the world series, child abduction and voting for constitutional amendments regarding stem cell research. It is obvious some parents are talking to their children, why can’t I?

***

Attempting to win back Olivia’s confidence in my ability to be more forthcoming I took her and Hailey to the Science Centers’ discovery room for a morning activity during our ‘daddy day.’ As planned, Olivia bombarded me with intriguing questions and I answered them with the speed and accuracy of a Ken Jennings wannabee, (the guy who won 70 or so games on Jeopardy). What is a crystal, what is a stethoscope, what is a puffer fish, etc. Our bond was strengthening, her trust in me growing with every prompt succinct and correct answer.

After our allotted forty-five minutes were up in the discovery room, Olivia and Hailey requested we go to see the Tyrannosaurus Rex. A massive thirty foot animatronics display depicting an ordinary day in the Cretaceous period which is a must see every time we visit and we have been to the Science Center at least a half dozen times over the past couple years.

Olivia: “Daddy, is the T-Rex nice?”

Me: “Sure sweetie” Which wasn’t a complete fabrication considering no one really knows.

Olivia: “Daddy, what’s the other one doing?” A fatally wounded Triceratops lay under the T-Rex’s foot.

Me: “I think he is sleeping and T-Rex is trying to wake him up for a game of tag.” The lie was more transparent than the balcony level window that we were viewing the exhibit from. One little deception reversed all my hard work. I quickly attempted to make some truthful commentary, “It’s just a big puppet sweetie. Nothing to worry about.” I could tell she was frightened. Not Hailey though, she was having a great time, shrieking every time the T-Rex roared, turning to me imitating the beast and portraying her own dinosaur “roar!” She repeated the scenario over and over again until we got to the cafeteria.

By mid-day the museum was packed, so I implemented the buddy system. It was so cute and made me so proud to see them holding hands looking out for each other which also instilled a bit more confidence in my ability to take them places I normally won’t because sometimes they have a tendency to dash off in different directions. A few times I could tell they wanted to do just that and I would shout, “Olivia! Hailey! Find your buddy.” And they did.

In the car, on our way home, I was issuing the rundown of the rest of the days’ agenda ending with, “…dinner-time, clean-up and then daddy is going to go vote.” The fact that we had a few previous talks about polling there were plenty of potential truthful answers for me to provide and bolster my ask-dad-anything status. So many issues to discuss: tobacco tax, wage increases, cloning, the whole electoral process, real important stuff to a three year old.

“Are you going to vote yes or no daddy?” An on going debate since Olivia started to notice all the political lawn signs cropping up as of late. The discussions didn’t pertain to any specific issue, just whether it was a yes or no. Olivia liked to flip-flop, yes one day, no the next.

“Well sweetie, that depends on the issue,” and before I could continue.

Olivia proclaimed, “I’m voting pink daddy.”

Hailey didn’t want to be left out either, “Yellow daddy!”

Maybe when they’re ready Olivia and Hailey will come to me with important questions on real life issues, maybe Olivia’s right, maybe, “We’ll talk about that later.

Originally posted on BabyCenter.com 11/09/06.

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