My wife Barbara and our good friend Heide conspired to take Heidi’s daughter Madelyne to the Nutcracker Ballet in Boston on a recent Sunday afternoon. We all thought it would be a good idea for the guys to do something together on the same day, so Madelyne’s dad Powell and I planned a trip to a museum with Simon. Simon is five and seems to me to be a bit hyperactive. Oh, right, that’s not a diagnosis…he’s just five. So by nine Sunday morning we were driving off to visit the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Since I have often spent time at Harvard University servicing the pipe organ our company built there, I now know that having never visited this museum previously is a sin of huge proportion. Our decision was strategic…there are dinosaurs…Simon is five. But Simon’s interests are not limited to paleontology and he is no stranger to the field of entomology. The intrepid entomologist is pictured above studying a variety of beetle which I took to be the Six-spotted Tiger Beetle (Cicindela sexguttata), found in the northern United States and Canada, and beneficial because it eats peskier insects. Simon however neither confirmed nor denied my assessment.
An adventure with a five year old is, to say the least, unpredictable. Neither Powell nor I had any illusions of schedule or agenda, and Barbara had actually hinted that we might be home before the girls left for the ballet. But several hours of study at Harvard didn’t dampen Simon’s enthusiasm one bit and we headed for the Museum of Science. On the way, Simon reminded me that in the lobby is a kinetic sculpture by George Rhoads, 8 by 8 feet at the base and 27 feet tall. Well…I Googled those facts. What Simon actually said was “Bob you have to see the balls there are balls that go down tracks and hit things Ding Bong Bang and spin things and when five of them get in a thing it tips and they go down and in this thing like a bowl and they go – wooooo – around and around and around and…” Obviously Simon is no stranger to the physics of gravity, inertia, mechanics and sound. Not surprisingly our first visit was to the “Archimedean Excogitation” sculpture. Forty minutes later Simon conceded that there might be something else in the museum worth seeing. Forty Minutes! Those keen to diagnose children as having ADD or ADHD might benefit from watching kids when they have the chance to engage with the amazing miracles life has to offer.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with nanotechnology, mathematics, engines, optical illusions, computers and lightning. When the museum closed, we escaped barely in time to avoid being kicked out, and drove out of the garage at 5:30 to head home to Rockport. We were sure Simon would crash during the ride home but, though he was often quiet he was always awake and alert. At one point Powell said “So Simon, how was your day?” Behind us and in the dark we could “see” a face light up. “It was the best day ever.” The best day ever! Among the many lessons I learned that day, one stands out in bright gold letters – you can have the best day ever more than once. Thanks Simon for giving me the best day ever. I hope you have many many more. I know I will.