Boys love anything with scales, fins and hungry, open mouths, so an annual membership to our local aquarium made sense.
It’s the ideal bad weather destination, but it also keeps our boys blissfully entertained for a good hour or two. And then there’s that whole “circle of life” concept that gives them a sense of how things fit into the big picture. They probably can’t explain it or even sing that “Lion King” song yet, but on a subconscious level I bet they understand.
Parents can “ooh” and “aah” at the strange and mystifying creatures along with their children, or they can take advantage of the aquarium’s less obvious benefits and make the trip an educational jaunt.
- Respect boundaries: You can’t stick your hand in the various fish tanks. Climbing on the exhibits is a no-no. And getting in the way of fellow patrons who also want to see the sharks, eels and crabs is frowned upon. These skills can be applied now – and later – to similar outings, from museum visits to grocery store shopping.
- Animals are our friends – to a point: We’ve worked tirelessly to make our boys ask before petting a stranger’s dog. A similar truth exists at the aquarium. When it’s time to feed the stingrays, the boys must hold the dead fish food between their fingers in a very specific grip. They can pet the stingrays but only with two outstretched fingers. Both animals and fish can be dangerous, something our boys have trouble understanding.
- Nature is amazing. We don’t live “undah the sea,” but the wonders of the aquatic world deserve our attention and respect. Point out the amazing colors, textures and shapes that exist naturally at the aquarium. Ask them to reproduce what they’ve seen at home with crayons and scrap paper.
- Use fish as a jumping off point: The aquarium has gotten our sons excited about snorkeling, something we’ve incorporated into family vacations. Elijah is already counting down the days until he can scuba dive, and while that’s many years off that inspiration may linger long into his teen years.