Saturday, August 06, 2005

Today we grabbed a couple friends and headed down to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is an excellent place to spend a few hours. They have a tremendous number of fish there, which is a pretty good quality in an aquarium.

They also have a lot of buttons. I learned today that you can take the most spectacular, colorful, impressive, gigantic, shark-filled, fireworks-included exhibit in the world, and if you put it next to an exhibit about...oh, let's say cardboard, that ALSO FEATURES A BUTTON, then my daughter will immediately gravitate towards the button.

I can recall being a button-obsessed child. I can recall dreaming of playing in a room filled with buttons, where each one did something unexpected and fun. One button would drop confetti and another would throw a creampie in my face, etc. I spoke of this button-room often. So, I can appreciate my daughter's interest in buttons, but it's still amusing to see her bypass a million-gallon fish tank in favor of a sign about jellyfish that lights up when buttons are pressed.

Sometimes, however, there were no buttons, so she enjoyed the fishies. At one point we gathered in front of the Kelp Forest tank to see the divers feed the hundreds of fish in that tank. It was really crowded and hard to see, so I gave Daisy the choice of either sitting on my shoulders, or utilizing her nimbleness and small size to scoot to the front of the crowd by herself.

Bam! Right there! Stop!

Did you catch that? Let's replay this in slow-motion. This is why I'm a lousy parent. I basically asked my child, if she'd like to slip through a large crowd of people into some place that I can't get to. So, off she went, slipping between people, deep into the mass of potentially dangerous aquarium customers. About 60 seconds later one of our friends asked me where Daisy was. I pointed vaguely into the direction of the crowd and the stupidity of my actions began to slowly dawn on me.

I spent the remainder of the presentation trying not to panic. I've never lost anything important like a kid before. I know that I get pretty paranoid when I can't find my wallet, because it is a royal pain in the ass trying to replace my ID and various cards. There's phone calls to make, and forms to fill out. So, I sat in front of that Kelp Forest, panicked about the immense stack of forms I'd need to fill out in order to report a missing child. I mean, she's bigger than 100 wallets!

Meanwhile, our friends and my wife scattered around the crowd trying to find a location that gave them a better view of the crowd. Thankfully my wife spotted Daisy before I crapped in my pants. When the presentation ended, Daisy came straight back through the crowd to where she had left us. I gave her an extra big squeezy hug and put all thoughts of forms behind me.

The rest of the day went pretty well. I immensely appreciated the irony of sitting down at the aquarium restaurant and deciding between the various types of fish on the menu. I'd just spent morning learning about the fabulous world under the sea, and how fragile their environment was, and what beautiful creatures they were, and now it was time to eat them.

Yay for the delicious Monterey Bay Aquarium!


Leesa said...

Funny post. Sounds like something I would do.
"Go on child...wayward into that big scary crowd".

Mike said...

Leesa, I don't think I can read a sentence with the word "wayword" without thinking of Kansas. Now I'll have that song going through my head all day. Thanks.

Eponymous Pseudonym said...

You did good, Mike. I don't think you were careless. The Aquarium is a fairly secure, controlled, low-risk environment, and you weren't so far away. It's not like you exhorted Daisy to go explore the Tenderloin.

In this case, you were considerate because you were thinking about how Daisy could have the best possible experience. Your programmer's mind creatively solved a problem by realizing that Daisy's small size was an asset in those circumstances. And, most importantly, you fulfilled one of the primary functions of a father, which is to encourage your child to explore and confidently engage the world around her. And in doing so, you demonstrated your trust in Daisy and your faith in her ability to handle that situation, which probably do her psyche more good in the long run than doubt-instilling expressions of fearful overprotection.

(In case you're wondering, I have no children.)

Mike said...

Mezameyo, I like your description of the event much more than mine. When Child Protection Services arrives today (3:30pm Pacific Time), I'll refer them to you.

amy said...

funny but scary. when i was a nanny 15 years ago in gloucester, mass., i took my two nanny kids to the boston marathon via train then via subway. a zillion people were there. and i was a naive kid from south dakota. i never lost them but it was one of the dumbest moves i ever made as an adult with children in tow. i've made dumber moves as a single chick but anyways....glad you found your kid. is her name really daisy?

Mike said...

Inky, sounds like your day at the Boston Marathon was as enjoyable as mine.

But, no, her name isn't really Daisy. Nor is it a name that fits particularly well, but it does amuse me. I'm all about the amusing of me.