Hands down the grandest DC museum for children. You could visit every week and never make it through the entire museum. We can usually manage no more than three exhibits in a visit. This time I made a b-line to the second floor since we've never made it out of the first floor before! I wanted to see the butterflies. On the way we ran into the Nature's Best Photography 2010 Exhibit.
Did you realize how captivated and excited children get in front of pictures of animals?
Kaio loved the picture of a crab.
Not a single picture was passed without squeals.
First stop at the Butterfly Pavilion, a very old butterfly stuck in the sticky syrup from a tree.
Then on to the cocoons. They have videos of cocoons, plastic molds of cocoons, and even a butterfly nursery with constant hatching cocoons. We've been reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar, so this exhibit fit perfectly with the summer theme.
On to the Butterfly Pavilion, you have to get a ticket btw. For some reason they had free admission on the day we went, but usually it costs $6. Entering into the pavilion is like walking into Ferngully. The air is misty and there are butterflies fluttering by everywhere. There's a lot to take in, but without a time limit, you're free to mosey through.
And the caterpillar became a Beautiful Butterfly!
Unfortunatly during our lovely trip, I was dunked in the ice cold water of mothering trauma. We visited on a weekday but the museum was still packed. In the Insect Zoo exhibit we were checking out the butterfly nursery and I turned slightly to the right to look at the live bee hive wall with Kaio. When I turned back a couple seconds later, Nene had vanished.
I still haven't told Mari this because I'm worried to upset him.
I grabbed Kaio's hand and dragged him from room to room, scanning legs, looking for her pink plaid dress and hot pink Havianas. We ran through the insects, we returned to the butterfly pavillion, we walked to a new exhibit we hadn't visited yet. I checked all the surrounding rooms, paused at a group of women resting on a bench at the exit of the insect exhibit, "Have you seen a little girl walk by here alone?"
"No and we've been here for about 10 minutes."
I had no concept of time at that point. Had it been a minute or 10 minutes since she disappeared? I went to the butterfly pavilion desk or help and they notified security. Other parents were coming up to me offering to help look for her.
I figured she'd be siting and crying once she realized she was lost. Kaio and I raced through the rooms, listening and looking, but nothing.
I'm not the type to freak out or be a worry wort. But after not finding her in any of the adjoining rooms I started to wonder if someone had swiped her and tranquilized her so she wouldn't cry. I went back to the butterfly pavilion workers, "I still can't find her. I'm starting to worry that someone took her."
Nice kid (college student on summer break) behind the desk, "Go down to the security office, they have cameras and they can search the video."
A woman next to me, "Can't you call them for her? You need to notify them now."
Nice kid behind the desk, "We did call and they know you are coming."
Ok, I started frantically tapping my hand on the desk, "how do I get there?"
He pulls out a map and a pen, "you walk past the .... and down the elevator... and past the...." The map looked like bunch of colored squares and lines. I knew my brain could only hold very simple, small bites of information. If he could just tell me which way to turn out of the exhibit, then maybe I could find someone else along the way to ask them for the next step, and continue like that until arriving at the security desk.
Another nice kid working there must have seen that my eyes weren't tracking the pen on the map, "Do you want me to walk you there?"
"Yes, thank you that would be really great, I'm not focusing very well right now."
He wasn't walking fast enough. I wanted to run there.
Poor Kaio, my hand locked around his wrist like a handcuff, dragging him around. He didn't freak out though. That was impressive, since he notoriously freaks out faced with insignificant things. He kept calm and cooperative, only muttering a few times, "Where's Nala? We've got to find Nala."
When we turned the corner into the security office, there she was, sitting politely and sweetly in a chair behind the desk, looking worried but not crying. We ran to meet in a long giant hug, me and Kaio wrapped around Nala.
My little princess had somehow found her way to the largest piece of jewelry in the joint: the Hope Diamond. Like a fish to water, or a bug to light, or however the saying goes.
I couldn't believe she'd walked that far away without me. After we were reunited she asked me to carry her around. And I didn't mind.
I filled the rest of the day with pop quizzes on 'what to do if you can't find mommy.' You Stop, Don't Run. Find a mommy or a guard and ask, "can you help me find my mommy?"
At least four different parents came up to me after that, "Oh you found her! That happened to me once too..."
Their similar stories really helped sooth my I'm a bad mommy thoughts.
So we checked out one more exhibit before I was ready to check out.
Osteology: Hall of Bones
It became a giant game of Guess the Animal.
And on the way out: Kilauea erupting!
One of the days over circling 100degrees, the kids talked me into a popsicle from a street vendor. I picked the most pure looking one possible, labeled 'Pineapple' 'Real Fruit' 'All-Natural.'
A great trip save the scare. Really makes me consider getting leashes for the kids.