Long-time Readers will remember our trip to the Shedd Aquarium and the 12 Touring-a-Museum/Zoo-with-Children Rules. Turns out that the Newport Aquarium has some rules of it's own....
1. Make sure to buy your tickets ahead of time at Kroger. It saves you about $15 total. You could also pretend that every child you have is under age 2, but that approach limits you in terms of height, weight, and whether or not your child was listening during that Sunday school talk about the 10 commandments. Go with Kroger. The woman at the service desk won't know what you are talking about, but since deal-obsessed Awkward Dad is worse that a hoarder at tag sale, you will get your discounted tickets in short order.
2. Go on the first 70 degree Friday of the spring. You always talk about how you want to meet more people. Why not meet the entire city of Cincinnati at once? It is more efficient that way. Also, make sure it is "no stroller day" when you attend, and no, we didn't know that was a thing either.
3. Forget your camera. Be reduced to taking blurry pictures with Awkward Dad's iPhone. Get a few decent ones, but make sure they are of other people's kids.
4. Speaking of pictures, take all of them from either 2 inches away or across the room, like this:
Because close-ups on gator eyes are always good for a nice freak-out
when reviewing the photos later.
when reviewing the photos later.
That way you can play your own version of Where's Awkward Waldo.
5. This one is for the kiddies, so listen up, guys. When Mommy starts to freak out a little because of the crowd and whatnot, go super slow and get really interested in every touchable item and interactive display.
If you find drums to play, all the better! Act like you have all the time in the world and write a symphony or two while people push and swell around Mommy and her face turns sorta purple; she's fine.
6. Make sure to find Nemo. If you can't, Dory will do in a pinch.
7. This one is for the kids too; find a weird play-area/frog display. Stay there forever. Ignore your parents' pleading to see the rest of the aquarium. Who cares that it is packed with kids and about 12000 degrees? Make sure to insist that they take a picture of each one of you on these frogs:
Obviously, don't make it easy on them; refuse to sit still and pose together.
8. Regarding pictures in general, my lovely little ones; never, ever, look the same direction as your siblings. Especially if Mommy says anything like, "Oh, this would make a cute family photo." Adults like variety, so spice it up!
Priceless family memories.
9. Since Awkward Dad adores Jellyfish, stay in the Jellyfish area until all of you feel like Awkward Mom in this photo:
10. Watch some totally insane penguin show with a woman dressed as a penguin. Makes sure that Awkward Dad takes an upside-down video of all of it. By the end, you will feel like this:
11. Now you are bored, over-warm, and getting sleepy. Let's jump-start that heart rate by losing Super Preschooler in the Penguin display, which everyone knows is the busiest area of the aquarium, next to the otters. Completely freak-out and flail around helplessly in the crowd, making sure to get backed into a corner, so that when you finally spy Super Preschooler, crying his eyes out and trying to go up the down escalator, you have to vault over a bench and a 3rd grade field trip to get to him. Hug him like he is returning from war before apologizing to that pregnant lady that you might have tripped.
12. Spend way too much in the gift shop. Duh.
It was a spectacularly awkward adventure for our intrepid superheroes, but the best moment of the day was in the gift shop. Tired, crabby, and annoyed that Super Preschooler eschewed anything with the merest mention of the Newport Aquarium, or even sea life in general, for an overpriced, tiny, fake-velvet bag of "precious gems," Awkward Mom is impatiently tapping her foot and waiting to pay. She may have even been rolling her eyes at the awful crowd and the plethora of plastic playthings surrounding her. She orders Awkward Dad and the 2 youngest to find the stroller, which, if you recall, they were forced to leave at the coat check, it being "no stroller day." Super Preschooler won't let his "preciouses" out of his sight, so she has him with her when the cashier takes the bounty and does this:
Angel Cashier: Oh! Are you getting this magical bag of gems?
Super Preschooler: Yes!
Angel cashier: You know, it isn't quite full. I bet you could fit a ton more in there.
Super Preschooler: Really?
Angel Cashier: Yes indeed; and I have just the thing in the back, hang on! Back in a wink!
We have to inform you that there is a huge line and it is the end of what has to be a long and exhausting shift, but he bounces away to leave Awkward Mom and Super Preschooler just staring after him, mouths agape. True to his word, he is back in a wink.
Angel Cashier: Look! I filled it all the way up with these. (It is actually spilling up and over onto the counter) They are magnetic rocks; we just got them in and they aren't out yet, but I thought you might like them.
Super Preschooler: Yes, I do! Thank you!
Angel Cashier: You are most welcome. Oh ma'am, don't forget your free gift!
Awkward Mom: My what?
Angel Cashier: I see Kroger tickets in your hand, you get a free gift with those. Here you go!
Awkward Mom: Ummm...thanks!
Now, every time she uses her free Newport Aquarium bag, Awkward Mom will remember the following:
1. Fairy godpeople are always around. Usually in the place you do NOT expect them to be. They are magic, so they tend to like surprising folks.
2. Always buy your Newport Aquarium tickets at Kroger.
3. Call ahead to see if it is No Stroller Day.
4. Always, always, follow the 12 Touring-a-Museum/Zoo-with-Children Rules. Always.
"Mom! That's not Nemo at all!"