Go-to places

Columnist Kita Szpak recalls the local destinations she used to take her three boys when they were small

We all look forward to returning to our children’s favourite places once restrictions are lifted and visiting people and places will once again be possible. However, I do believe that with what we have gone through, the level of appreciation will have increased hundredfold. This is a good example to use to talk about and teach your kids about gratitude—something that will stay with them all their lives (but I digress).

The local science and technology museum was a fun and active place for the boys and me to visit. If they were particularly needing a physical outlet—and any parent who has been stuck at home with kids on a frigid January day, you know exactly what I mean—the science museum answered the call for an extra-large space to run in. Whether all the exhibits were really looked at and fully explored was secondary. Key here for them was to move through the enormous building as quickly as possible. It’s as if their bodies knew this was their opportunity to let loose (with Mom supervising of course) before the “it’s time to go home” was announced.

The one area that held any extra attention was the locomotive section where at that time, you could still climb up the stairs into the locomotive engineer’s cab. I can’t recall how many locomotives there were/are but three little boys had to visit them all with the first one up the locomotive stairs able to sit in the engineer’s cab seat. Mom duly refereed when each turn was up.

When the weather improved, our visits focused on Ottawa’s agriculture museum. The barns were open to families, and everyone was free to go right into the milking area, where the line of cows cast a wary eye lest a little person ventured too close to the trough—the unspoken line of demarcation. Seeing the days-old calves in their stalls was a treat. The horse and then the pig barns were next on the list before little legs gave out and we called it a day.

Two exhibits at the nature museum held special appeal for my sons, and to this day I smile when I think of how thrilled they were to enter the museum and head for the dinosaur exhibit. Repeated visits failed to dampen their enthusiasm—something I took note of if I was feeling particularly jaded on any of those days.

The other exhibit that held them spellbound as first experienced by my oldest—and you may be surprised by this—occurred when my then three-year-old insisted on being taken to see “The Bubble Movie.” I think it was/is called “The Origins of Life.” In any case, a little blonde boy was mesmerized by the floating bubbles—depicting Earth’s first oxygen/carbon molecules. So impressed was he, that the bubbles were more important than the dinosaurs until such time that he was outvoted by his siblings. Nevertheless, “The Bubble Movie” remains a delightful and treasured reminder of times past with the boys.