We’ve all been there; whether it was a field trip at age 6 with our first grade class, or as an adult with our own children. No matter your age at the time of your visit, the aquarium is a wondrous place.
The last time I was there, I was in high school, and it was a spur-of-the-moment trip with my mom, her husband, my best friend *Aubrey, and my 11 year old sister *Rose. They took our picture before we entered the aquarium-I looked utterly bored and unexcited. At the age of 16, my focus was on my boyfriend, and how angry I was that he couldn’t come. Thankfully, I had my best friend of 10 years by my side to pull me out of that funk. Aubrey always had a way of pulling the stick out of my ass when I was being the Queen of All Things Crabby. I’m not sure I ever really thanked her for that…
Once I had my happy-face back in place, I was able to enjoy the wonders of the aquarium. I remember watching the seals swimming in this huge tank outside-one was swimming next to the glass and following this little boy who was running back and forth. As the boy changed directions, so did the seal. Inside, I was mesmerized by the penguins. They were located just inside the doors, so they were one of the first things you saw. I could’ve spent hours watching them. I don’t quite know what it is about penguins, but I’ve always loved them. Maybe it’s their goofy waddle, or the way they shake their butts as they swim. The only thing that could pull me away from them, was the sea horses! They have always seemed so majestic and magical to me. I think I have Disney movies to thank for that.
This past Saturday, I returned to the New England Aquarium for the first time since that trip in 2005. I was accompanied by my sister *Luna, her boyfriend *Mitchell, my nephew *Beary, and my Fiancé, we’ll call him *Pooh. Saturday was Beary’s first time at an aquarium. The hour-long ride down was full of “Shark!” “Penguin!” “Seal!” while “Uncle” drove, and “Auntie” played with sunglasses and took pictures. Beary was most excited for the sharks-we were all excited to watch him check things out.
While Luna paid for her and Beary’s ticket, I brought him over to check out the seals. The look on his face was priceless. The seals were doing tricks while the trainer fed them. Beary just stood there watching, mouth wide with wonder. The only way we could get him away from the seals was to bring up the “sharks!” and tell him there were fish even bigger than Chip inside.
Chip is Beary’s fish at home, who lives in a pineapple under the tap water. I’m pretty sure my sister only named him Chip for one reason…
“Beary, tell Auntie your fishie’s name.”
“What is it?!”
Good thing she didn’t name him Truck or the fun would never end.
The first thing we did once we were inside, was check out the shark and stingray touch-tank. Again, Beary’s chin hit the floor. I reached in and touched a stingray, and then one of the smaller sharks, but Bear had no interest in doing the same. He was perfectly content just watching, pointing at each one as they swam by him. (Though he did eventually touch a starfish, for half a second)
After a few minutes of watching him watch the sharks and rays, we ventured down the stairs to the Jellyfish Lair, passing a few smaller tanks on the way, but not stopping. (Who wants to waste time on anemones?) The jellyfish tanks were much darker than the tanks we had passed by, and Beary was not a fan. I picked him up, pointed to one, and told him this was a jellyfish. With one arm tight around my neck, he reached out to touch the glass, only to pull back seconds later in fear, and burry his head in my neck.
I moved on to a tank of smaller jellies only to get the same reaction.
We walked past a few more tanks of small ones, some almost microscopic, before stopping at the Mother Of All Jellies tank. Beary looked at this massive jellyfish for a few minutes, almost confused. I touched the tank.
“See? They can’t hurt you in there.”
He reached out and touched this tank.
“Of all the tanks, you want to touch the tank with the King Pin Jellyfish?” I thought
Then, a few seconds after his finger touched that glass, his face changed as he was again overcome by fear, shouting “No!” and squeezing tighter.
Time to head back upstairs-To the penguins!
These were some seriously mouthy penguins. It was feeding time for them, just like it was for the seals, so they were extra energetic and loud. God, were they loud. We got to watch a few jump into the water and swim around. Some looked like they were going to push others off the rocks, but sadly, it never happened. We slowly made our way around the big, cylindrical penguin exhibit towards the walls where the fish tanks were. Beary liked the bright colored fish, and the more illuminated tanks. These didn’t scare him like the jellyfish. After all, they were just bigger versions of Chip.
As we kept walking, we eventually came to the gigantic center tank. I think this was Bears favorite part. There were tons of fish, 2 sea turtles, some eels, and a few real big fish that scared the complete crap out of him as they swam by. Watching him stand there, and get so excited every time he saw the turtles, made this trip far more wondrous than I imagined it would be.
The center tank had ramps around it, all the way up to the top where you could look down into the tank. I think my favorite part of this day-trip happened at the top. While we were standing next to the glass, Beary looked to his left, to see a little girl his age looking at the same sea turtle. His eyes grew wide, his jaw dropped, and he took in a quick breath of shock. He looked at us, then back at the little girl. He did this a few times, eyes and mouth still wide, until she and her family walked away. His first crush and first heartbreak all in a matter of moments.
At the top floor, there were also a few tanks with seahorses, my favorite! Bear’s fear from jellyfish tanks returned. Sadly, we won’t be able to share a love of seahorses. I’m sure it didn’t help that he was also getting sleepy. We can try again another day.😉
We decided is was time to head out and find some food before venturing home. We walked down to Faneuil Hall Marketplace and had some lunch, then stopped at the best cupcakery in the world-Wicked Good Cupcakes. 2 cupcakes in one jar, so many flavors to choose from, and only $7.25 a jar. What more could a girl ask for?
Beary was snoring in the back seat as soon as we hit the highway. This trip left my heart warm for the remainder of the weekend. I know Bear won’t soon forget it. On Sunday while Face-timing him & Luna, he brought up the “jelly bibbits”, with that same look of fear on his face. His 2nd birthday is next month. I’m thinking Pooh & I will get him a stuffed jelly…♥
Soon To Be Mrs P.
*Names have been changed to protect the crazies in my life.