Monday, 26 November 2012
A Whale Of A Time
One of the great things about a kindergarten is the trips. Every term, our little ones get to go somewhere exciting, and normally, the teachers require parent helpers to go along and make sure everyone stays on the right side of the law. It is a time filled with over-excited kids, crammed onto buses with long-suffering parents, screeching and laughing and generally causing havoc and mayhem. And this term, the excursion to the local marine reserve coincided with an almost total eclipse of the sun. The excitement knew no bounds.
On the bus, the boys and I put together a rudimentary pinhole camera which I patched together with some receipts and an old paperclip which I found in my handbag (see It's all in the bag...). The boys were fascinated as we tracked the position of the moon and the sun by using the camera, and shivered as the air got colder and the daylight turned to a weird twilight.
Then we got to the marine reserve and the leaders of the troupe advised us that, as parents, there was a job for us to do that only we could do. Expecting it to be something about safety, none of us was prepared to be handed a hat in the shape of an extremely unattractive sea creature and told to put it on and not take it off for the whole trip around the reserve. Mine was an especially unattractive specimen of crab, with long pincers that dangled around my ears. Not my finest moment.
The twins were absolutely fascinated by the touch pool. One of them picked up a large shell, and then dropped it just as quickly as a huge hermit crab emerged with an angry glint in his beady eye. However, the hermit crab took one look at the crab on my head (ever so much larger and nastier-looking) and decided to make a bid for freedom. He scuttled back into the pool over the boys' hands, causing great consternation, upon which they promptly asked to be able to hold him again.
But what made the biggest impression by far was the octopus. I have always heard that an octopus can squeeze through a hole as big as its own eyeball, and here we saw that it is true - the octopus flowed through the most minuscule of holes as though it was being poured through like water. The boys were fascinated to learn that the mommy octopus stays with her eggs once she has laid them, never eating or going away until they hatch, and in the process gets very thin and sick and sometimes even dies.
They were very upset by this story, especially seeing the small clusters of eggs on the sides of the octopus tank. "It's okay," I explained, "the people at the marine reserve will feed her and make sure that she doesn't get hungry".
As we walked back to the bus at the end of a wonderful day, Sam spoke his thoughts freely: "If you were thin and sick, Mama, I would feed you so that you didn't die!" he said.