Animal, vegetable, mineral...but our summer experiences had had little to do with things aquatic, and Duncan had been talking quite a lot about sea otters, so we headed off to the Maritime Aquarium, in Norwalk, CT. The New England Aquarium it is not. Mystic Aquarium it is not. Nevertheless, the Maritime Aquarium is a nice place to spend a few hours with kids. We skipped the IMAX theater on this visit, but it helps make the trip worthwhile since the aquarium is on the small side. Duncan got to watch his beloved sea otters (really these were river otters, but what he doesn't know won't hurt him until he's 30 and needs therapy to recover from all the lying I exposed him to in his youth). We watched the seals have lunch. We gazed at the tiny, colorful, poison dart frogs that resembled toy amphibians. We ogled the albino alligator. We feared the touch tank...(Duncan did), but it was too crowded for comfort anyway. We were fascinated by the jelly fish, awed by the loggerhead turtle, and mesmerized by the sharks.
We stopped in the gift shop on the way out to buy Duncan a souvenir and narrowly skirted a meltdown. After he had already carried around the stuffed seal for fifteen minutes and fallen deeply in love with her, I feared we might have to leave her in the store. You see, the second the saleswoman had rung up our purchases, the computer went down, and all the registers were rendered useless. Several groups of camp kids left exceedingly disappointed because their bus was leaving NOWWWW!, and they could not wait around to purchase their treasures. I vowed that we had come this far, and I would NOT leave the aquarium without that seal, even if it was nap time.
I thought for a few minutes about asking one of the four young salespeople if there was an adult they could consult (they really were quite young). Finally, someone wondered aloud why purchases were being processed across the way; it seems a bright young man had decided to keep his line moving by using his math skills to total the purchases and make change and was tracking the purchases on paper to enter into the computer later when it came back on. The other salespeople thought he was brilliant. The young man waiting on me said "Yeah, I can't give you a receipt, but I guess if you just want to pay for that, you can." As it happened, I knew the total from before the computer crashed, and I didn't care less about the change. I had a kid who had a nice day at the aquarium and a stuffed seal to show for it. And proof that you just might use those math skills in the real world!