Thursday, February 03, 2011

Ada's Field Trip

A couple of weeks ago, Ada turned four. It's no big deal that I didn't mention it at the time; you haven't missed the party. She's still celebrating! In fact, she preemptively walks around holding up four fingers in hopes that someone will ask about her age. But we did celebrate her birthday in grand style, with a trip to a Very Special Destination.

Shortly before Christmas I decided that I deserved a treat so after a busy morning of running errands I skipped lunch and drove Ada and myself over to the county library headquarters (not our usual branch) to pick up a Richard K. Morgan novel.

As we entered the main building, Ada immediately peeled off to head for the children's section. I trailed at a respectful distance, curious about what she was seeking. Would she go straight for the picture books sitting at the child-sized reading tables? Would the large stuffed animals draw her interest? When did they remove the cool play structure?

My daughter headed straight for nonfiction, then turned to catch my eye and said, "Mommy, I can't find the books about dinosaurs." Actually, she was standing in the right place, just looking one shelf too high. I directed her attention to the correct area, then headed for the back room where St. Louis County Library sequesters its science fiction.

I grabbed my novel and strode back out into the main room, meeting Ada near the circulation desk so we could both present our choices to the librarian. Adelaide chose A Dinosaur Named Sue about explorer Sue Hendrickson's discovery of the world's largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex fossilized skeleton in South Dakota, the restoration of the fossil, and its acquisition by The Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. We read that book over and over. Once she realized that Grandma and Grandpa live not too far away and a visit to see Sue was a possibility, her birthday plans were set.

(My younger sister had a daughter the day after Ada was born and we frequently hold a joint birthday celebration at Grandpa and Grandma's house. Fortunately, my niece was willing to go along with Ada's idea. She was a dinosaur for Halloween this year.)

So. Friday of the weekend of Ada's birthday we caravanned up to my parents' house with Paul's sister, her husband, and their three-year-old daughter. We met my parents and my sister's family there, then all took the train into Chicago on Saturday morning. Saturday evening was the family birthday party. Sunday we returned home.

And if you give Ada the slightest opening, she'll tell you all about Sue the T-Rex.

Ada pretending to be afraid of Sue's head. (She was afraid of the balcony but not the dinosaur. Apparently Ada's in a fear-of-heights stage.)

Ada's picture of a pteranodon - taken well back from the edge of the scary balcony.

Ada in front of the Chicago skyline from the museum restaurant.

With souvenir Sue, waiting for the train back.

All five girls (including the three not celebrating birthdays) received pillow pets and this was another huge highlight. Ada had been coveting the purple unicorn pillow pet for weeks.

That's my kid. Penguins, dinosaurs, and orcas (nonfiction!) but also: My Little Pony and unicorns (pure fantasy). This is the stuff childhood is made of.


keribrary said...

I love that my dream birthday trip at 35 was the same one that Ada had at 4. Hopefully I'll get to talk to her about it on Saturday.

Sarahlynn said...

I didn't realize that! Awesome. Ada's actually really fun to have a conversation with. She reasons like a grown-up person but has these unique (and, often, mistaken) insights like a young child. She's much more interesting than a child development textbook.

I had the most fun last weekend with my sister's chatty one-and-a-half-year-old. It's hilarious to hear what one-year-olds are thinking, if only they could talk. (And this one talks in paragraphs. Hilarious. "I am NOT a baby anymore and that's why I pushing this stroller around. See I NOT a baby; I have my own baby DOLL now in dis stroller." Just a constant stream of narration to no one in particular.)

RobMonroe said...

It was such a fun trip! Abby still raves about the train and, of course, Sue. So glad we tagged along!

Sarahlynn said...

So glad you came!

Ada's already asking when we can go back to visit the aquarium:

Barrie said...

What fun! Happy Belated Birthday, Ada!

Sarahlynn said...

I'll pass that along, thank you!

(She's still telling everyone "I turned four last week." We're still working on concepts related to time.)