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Field trip—UofM Museum of Natural History

Calvin had his five year old doctor appointment today, only almost two months late. We're late because when I called to make the appointment his pediatrician was booked for the next three months, and we didn't go through a ped selection process in order to see some other doctor the one time each year we end up in the office. I love our pediatrician, and the wait was well worth it. He's always put Calvin at ease, and been happy to answer any questions I may have. I've always figured that we're doing our job right if the visit is merely an affirmation of things that are going on at home, and he has always been conscious and supportive of our decisions.

But no matter how fantastic of a visit it was, there were two shots waiting at the end of it. I knew they were coming. Calvin knew they were coming. When we talked about them yesterday I was honest in telling him that they would hurt for a short while, probably not even as long as the wasp sting he had gotten last Friday and had forgotten by Saturday. I offered him, as something to look forward to, as a reward for braving a tough situation, his choice between going to the splash zone, going to the movies (his first time), and going to the University of Michigan's Museum of Natural History. I was kind of looking forward to a movie (they are very air conditioned, after all), but he chose the museum. And that's my boy.

During the latter of my college years the Museum of Natural History was my home away from home. I attended several classes in the rooms down those hallways, dissected animals and identified species by their skulls in the labs, and had long, drawn out conversations with professors, T.A.s, and other students while sitting in the rotunda. These are my favorite memories from school, and walking back into the building, which has hardly changed, was like being transported. Except for the overly excited five year old who had too much innate curiosity and unquenchable exuberance to be anything like the kids I went to class with (or myself).


Calvin loved the exhibits. The museum has the feel of something assembled almost as an after-thought, as you walk in amidst signs warning you from research wings and labs and classrooms left and right. You pay by honest donation, you take your own tours, some things are behind glass while others are not, and only some are touchable, but it is up to your own guess as to which those things are.


Basilosaurus isis

Basilosaurus isis

But the mastodons and the Allosaurus are right there, two feet away, as large as life, and they are oh so impressive that way. And the fact that they are squeezed into an overcrowded, un-air conditioned room along with 70 year old cases of even older fossils, sculptures, and drawings, gives them a purely academic feel that is inspiring.



Tyrannosaurus rex skull

There is no real flow, but each section is a world unto itself, full of things to discover. The writing also has the flavor of academia, as in long winded and excessive to read, but Calvin actually absorbed quite a bit of it before succumbing to exhaustion (or heat stroke, one of the two).



There are two more floors, current Michigan fauna and biology, and a planetarium that we have yet to explore, but that's the great thing about being close: we can come back. He was so thrilled with it that I think I see it again in the near future, which is actually better than trying to go during the school year anyhow.

For more info:

The University of Michigan Museum of Natural History

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