We here at MojoFiction delivered a sweet Christmas present this holiday season when we presented our son with tickets to an overnight at the Field Museum of Natural History here in Chicago, an event for kids age 6-12 and their guardians. Last Friday we had to deliver on those tickets, which, it never occurred to us, was part of the deal. But, sensing a Great Moment in Dad History, we decided to follow through.
How cool of a dad were we? – Well, we’re modest, so we’re not going to brag about driving two hours from the city, back into the suburbs, and then 2-1/2 hours back to the city in the freezing rain Chicago experienced Friday night just to get our kid to the event. No, we are not. That’s because we did something far more praise-worthy. That’s right; we drove I-90 into the merge with I-94. Boom! As readers of MojoFiction know, had we simply taken i-94 all the way, we could have probably made it back before we left, but we didn’t have that option. Nevertheless, by cleverly driving behind a bus the entire way because traffic was so thick we couldn’t have changed lanes if we wanted to, we made it to the museum on time.
That’s when we really sprang into action.
After parking underneath Soldier Field, we arrived outside the museum with our sleeping bags and pillows. Immediately, we slipped on the ice and went down. Just to show he’s a chip off the old block, our son took the same fall. So all of our stuff was wet, but we carried on. Inside the museum someone handed us a chart showing sleeping arrangements. There were a lot of group sleeping areas and one large family section. And what group should we see taking up half the place? Our old nemesis: Cub Scouts! And just across the main hall were their arch-enemies: Girl Scouts. So it was going to be a long night.
We ventured into the Ancient Americas exhibit, laying out our gear somewhere between the Mayans and the Aztecs, being sure to keep away from the sacrificial knife artifacts, you know, just in case weird things were to happen in the night, like in that movie. And its sequel. Using our stealth tactics, we crossed through the Cub Scout area (remember, the more patches they have, the more dangerous they are) and into the main hall.
The main hall at the Field Museum features the T-Rex known as Sue (was Fred really such a bad name? What about Louise?), along with huge Native American totem poles and life-like replica elephants. Around these exhibits the museum set up learning stations, with little-seen displays of spiders, scorpions, giant insects, creepy animal skins, and dinosaur eggs.
Finally, it was dad-time:
Us: “You totally have to let that guy put the tarantula on your head.”
Our son: “I’m scared of spiders.”
“That little girl is letting him put it on her head.”
“I don’t want to.”
“You have to.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
“Have you ever held a tarantula or had one on your head?”
“If I have to do it, you have to do it.”
“No I don’t.”
“Yes you do.”
(Darn it! We should never have enrolled him in Cub Scouts, they’re too clever)
Us: “I’ll buy you a present if you do it.”
Our Son: (eyeing us suspiciously) “What kind of present?”
“A present befitting putting a tarantula on your head.”
Though he still didn’t trust us (we don’t know why), the prospect of a new toy or whatever was too much to pass up. So he went over to the table and offered his head:
Immediately afterwards we had this conversation:
Son: “So, what kind of present do I get?”
Us: “What would you like?”
Son: “A Bugatti.”
He watches way too much Top Gear.
Later that night, the museum offered a “self-guided” flashlight tour of their Ancient Egypt exhibit. That exhibit should always be in the dark. Looking at the mummies, statues, artifacts, and the museum’s recreation of the Nile river through the lonely beam of a flashlight really brought everything to life in a new and creepy way. We think their dinosaur bone collection would be freaky-cool in the dark, too.
Afterwards, they had other activities kids could get in on, but we chose to explore the museum’s permanent exhibits. We had a lot of fun since many of the exhibits were virtually empty, unlike a regular crowded weekend, and we could pretty much do whatever we wanted. We traipsed through the Evolving Planet and the dinosaur bones, we hit the Hall of Gems, and we visited their Pawnee Lodge.
The entire evening was a success and we would encourage anyone thinking about it to go ahead and do it. Where else are you going to be able to hear your child say, after they’ve held a tarantula, “I want to hold the giant cockroach!” (Fine, it wasn’t giant, but it looked big to us.)
Okay, spiders, great, we get it. But who in their right mind wants to hold cockroaches?
That’s right. Cub Scouts.