Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Humane Parenting Home Run

We're back from Lake Placid, and we've spent the past couple of days trying to regroup from the trip, get back on schedule, and deal with the last remnants of construction that has been ongoing in our laundry room.

On Saturday, we went to the Wild Center Adirondack Natural History Museum. I am not easily impressed, but that place was quite impressive. It was spotless, well done, and the docents were wonderfully helpful. It was big enough to be worth the trip, but not so big as to be overwhelming. I found it interesting and learned a lot, but all the exhibits were also all kid-friendly. They had an amazing kids room with games, toys, puzzles, books, and a time-lapse photography video that Bess loved. They had some animals there who had been injured and could not be returned to the wild. We learned all about one of them, a porcupine who had been attacked by a dog.
There was also an outdoor exhibit area, where we took the half-mile walk around the pond. It was still too chilly for there to be much going on there (though the day we visited it exceeded 60 degrees!), but in the summer and fall there are birds, ducks, frogs, turtles, and all kinds of plants. The facility is LEED certified, so we also got to learn about solar power, water catchment, living roofs, light pollution-reduction lamps, and how they were able to build the facility on previously strip-mined land while returning it to it's natural state bit by bit.

I think the best part was when we were getting ready to leave. we ran into a docent named Arlene. She was missing her right hand, which she said was a birth defect, I assume due to thalidomide use by her mother. Bess, of course, was staring at her arm, and my mind was racing trying to figure out what to say. But Arlene beat me too it - "Do you notice something different about me?" Perfect! I wished I had thought of that. Bess nodded. "What's different?" Bess held up her hands. "You're right, I only have one hand. I was born that way. But you know what? I can clap just like you can!" And she could.

After that, Bess was fascinated. She asked Arlene how she is able to write, and if her arm hurts. She thought it was cool that she could clap with only one hand. She wanted to follow her around the museum for awhile and asked her about several of the exhibits. Then while we were checking out the gift shop, Arlene came to find Bess and give her a pencil, and to tell her that Bess was her special friend, and that she was glad she met Bess that day.
When asked what her favorite part of the day was, she says it was meeting her special friend who has only one hand instead of two, and who gave her a special pencil with an otter on it. I thanked Arlene for being so great with Bess, and for giving me a lesson on how to deal with that type of situation when it comes up again in the future. She was gracious, and I am grateful that we ran into her. From a humane parenting perspective, the day could not have been better.

You can view all the photos from our trips to the Adirondacks on Flick here, or above as a slideshow.

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