To celebrate Eid al-Fitr this year, we took the kids to the the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve gone there with children over the summer probably 4 times–once with Andrea sharing her love of the sea with Layla, Layla with her cousin another time, then later with a friend, and lastly all four of us this weekend. The experience never ceases to widen my eyes. I’m both enchanted at the experience and a bit achy knowing those amazing creatures would probably rather be in their natural habitat; that look in their eyes gets me every time.
Like many things (eating meat, making too much waste, etc…), I suppress those feelings guiltily and try to relish in the research and education behind the privilege. Seeing a gliding beluga whale with its Mona Lisa smile, watching a Whale Shark soar above pointy guitarfish and grumpy giant trout, witnessing rolling jellyfish propelling forward with elegance, or gaping at small piranhas unquestionably waiting for their elders to eat before they take a bite–how could my kids not form question after question, recognize a world hidden by their normal daily routine, or seed some type of environmental responsibility?
I can’t lie and say it’s an easy trip. I always overspend (darn that gift shop!) and truly fear I’ll lose my child in the crowd (Once, I heard a woman whistling a special tune when we were at one of the exhibits. We thought she was just really happy; turns out she was frantically “calling” her child because she lost him the crowd. I assume this was their emergency plan since there are throngs of kids yelling “Mommy!” while shadowed by a sea-blue glow.)
It never fails that I pine for a long shower and a nap when we get home (oh, especially when I went there in my third trimester–good God that was rough). This time was no different in any of these aspects. To look back, though, I traced back pictures of some of the other aquarium trips.
And then 2012.
And now 2014.
The giant trout has stared indifferently at my kids a few times, but the beluga whale surely must remember Layla’s chubby cheeks back in 2011. The small 2012 sting rays probably chit chat about Layla’s two little fingers brushing against their butterflied bodies. Quite frankly, I’ll be surprised if the African Penguins of 2014 could ever forget Zade excitedly screaming, “Mommy, Mommy! Do you see me?!” after he bravely crawled through a tunnel and popped his head up to wave at the waddling bunch.
They’re probably just as bewildered at our fascination of them as we are enchanted by the intricacies behind those really strong plastic walls.