We had a family outing at an aquarium
in New Jersey -across the river from Philly- and had a chance to be among visitors from all over. It was fun-filled day,
full of excitement, and, a great edutainment opportunity for the family! Read our story and watch the video. -Join us!
We had a family outing yesterday and happened to find ourselves at an aquarium in New Jersey, across the river from Philly. There were
seven of us, eager and excited, ready for a fun-filled day with the family. Although our visit took place in the middle of the work week,
because it's getting toward the end of summer the aquarium was crowded with a lot of folks with kids, and day camp children from near
and far. We got inside the building and ran into a pool of people -adults, kids, old and young, in strollers, on wheelchairs, bouncing up
and down on their little feet, including those being carried by their parents and grandparents. Noises and signs of excitement were
everywhere. We eagerly entered the first exhibit: this was sure to be one of the best times we spent together.
The aquarium was everything it promised to be, which was such a delight, since how often do we get to experience something whose
advertisement stays true to the product it sells? -Almost never. This one, though, came through. Kudos to the people who work behind
the scenes, thank you. If there was any complaint, it would be about the layout of each exhibit -which didn't have a nice flow. Because of that the visitors felt stuck in some areas. This was the only thing for which we were not prepared, since it could not be
detected from a twenty-second ad on television. As we walked into the first zone, we were intrigued by all the showcases on the walls of
both sides of a rather narrow hallway. We were also intrigued by the sea of
people which filled just about every little inch of available
space. We waited for the group in front of us to finish admiring the sea creatures shown in the clear glass case but soon realized that
those behind us didn't extend the same courtesy. Instead, they rushed past us and pushed their way to the front of the showcase. We
waited until they were finished, and as they left my eyes met those of one of the adult women. I smiled, but she looked through me as if
I wasn't there. Out of a pure sense of survival, I angled my body to one side to get out of her way. -If she didn't see me, she could very
well walk into me. Luckily for us, the next group behind us wasn't aggressive, or just wasn't interested. Therefore, that left us with time
to enjoy learning and seeing the fish and other wonders in the tank before us.
My second encounter happened soon after the first one. Had it occurred without any physical pain it would have been more cute than
anything. Nonetheless, it only put the emphasis on the fact that the layout of the aquarium did not quite work on a crowded day.
Click to watch video
By now, my family had divided into small groups and took off to see what they could, space provided. I found myself behind a group of
11-14 pre-school age children all wearing the same type of t-shirt with a large print of the name of their day camp on the back. They
were accompanied by two very loud chaperones. -I would be loud, too, if I had to get little kids to hear me in a noisy place! In front of
me, I witnessed a little girl elbow-nudging another girl out of the way, putting the girl who was nudged behind her and to the left of me.
I saw anger building on this little girl's face. Then, it was like a movie in slow motion, as she clenched her hands into fists; and, leaning
slightly forward before she leaped with all her strength, aiming for her friend, she yelled, "Aaaahhhhhghhh!" Before I knew it, my left
foot felt the weight of heavy sneakers slamming onto it, and at the same time a painful and burning sensation shot up from the side of
my left leg.
Uh, little girl, you missed your friend and got me instead. I cried out. -I think I did. The initial pain was so pronounced that it numbed
my other senses. I heard a noise from far away yelling, "Hey, don't scream," but I wasn't sure if it was for me or for the girl who caused
the damage to my foot and leg. "What," camp chaperone, "did you not see the unfortunate event that just happened to my left foot and
leg?" If she did, she has a great poker face. OUCH! I felt Kaitlyn's hand in my right hand, "Mommy, are you ok? Let's get out of here
and go look at your leg."
It was not a big deal. The pain went away eventually, and Kaitlyn and I moved on to our next adventure.
We have taught our children -anyone with a good attention span who's willing to listen, that we are fortunate to be here for (on earth)
and share the space with others. There's a saying in Thai culture that we are all brothers and sisters (aunts and uncles, parents and
children, and the list goes on and on)- that we help out, share with each other, give and forgive, in order for the world to keep evolving.
I'm sure there's a similar saying in all cultures. When our family members visit a public place, especially a place where we can obtain
both education and entertainment, we bring with us a nice laid-back and no-pressure outlook. For us, the minute we decided to visit the
aquarium, taking as much time as it pleases us was a given. -We brought with us an extra laid-back attitude and plenty of smiles, as we
knew we'd need them.
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I wish some of our "earth sharers" would have left home with better attitudes and some kindness in their hearts. I looked around and
saw parents pushing their kids to get in front of other people so they could touch the stingrays. Unhappy looking adults cut in the very
long line for ice-cream and pretended not to see some preteens in front of them. I was cussed at by a mother of a young boy who was
busy texting on her phone and failed to realize that three small children could have gotten to the front -and actually would have enjoyed
seeing the amazing creatures swimming in the pond- had she not blocked the path. I asked her politely to move over -for my daughter
and somebody else's
child, another visitor from a different state. She cussed at me, quite audibly, and yanked her little boy away in
disgust (at me, who else?) I quickly said "sorry" after her blessing. Why did I say sorry? Why, because my asking her to make room for
the children had caused her so much pain, so I was sorry for that. But I wasn't sorry for her thoughtlessness and obvious lack of self-
awareness. Unfortunately, my camcorder was on, and it captured her profanity -loud and clear. "For this I'm miffed, because it makes
me think not so highly of you, lady. I also sincerely hope you teach your child well so that he will be more thoughtful than his mother. Of
course, I can erase you from my SD card; but, even so, you already contaminated me and my daughter with your poor manner.
Unfortunately, you'll also remain in my personal hard drive (aka my head) for a while."
After my unfortunate event with the quick-tempered woman, things were much more pleasant. Maybe it even taught me to be more
aware of people and made me keep my family away from the "scary looking ones." We went on having fun, and with the determination
to stay clear of trouble, we later ran into people more like us in manner. We found ourselves laughing and really having a great time.
We all came home looking tanned. After an entire day of watching and observing all kinds of fish and sea creatures at the aquarium, we
celebrated at a classy Japanese restaurant, where most of us ordered special combos of sushi and sashimi!!!!
A day filled with fun, being crushed by a preschooler, cussed at by a mother of a young boy, a tan line, and a stomach full of raw fish.
-Where else would I find such an exciting combination?
Ah, it was a good day.