Sunday, July 16, 2006


The typhoon that muttered through the other day is gone, but its remnants still straggle through town once or twice a day. A Sunday trip to the park being out of the question, Franklin's brilliant father (that's me) came up with the grand idea of going to the NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL SCIENCE. The boy had a blast. Several even. The first blast was from the air-conditioning at the museum entrance. Of course, a/c always sends mothers into a panic, and Frank's was ready to turn around and go home, as we weren't prepared for such an outing and Franklin's jacket was at home. She settled for an extra layer in the form of a Dinosaur T-shirt which the boy was very happy to wear.

Dressed properly for the weather, Franklin took off toddling. The museum was crowded, but not so crowded that it was difficult for large people to keep up with a small one. We followed him as he stormed into the hall of life where Franklin stood in awe of the parmecium and all of its friends as they were projected on the wall near the ceiling. He moved back and forth between the first three rooms of the hall so that he could watch the spinning images above the models of houseflies and grasshoppers. There was more to see, but it was very hard to pull him away from the single-celled organisms and viruses.

We made it to the next section in time to see a mother yelling at her kids not to touch the fossils. I looked around and didn't see any signs that said not to fondle the preshistoric remains, and since the fossils were within reach, Frank and I moved closer and rubbed a rock encrusted with marine shells. No alarms went off. Father and son were not led away by security. It's a hands-on museum, after all.

Then, we got to the dinosaurs. Well, Franklin is sold. The animatronic exhibit was the most fascinating thing he's ever seen and he walked right up to T-Rex and didn't relinquish his spot for several minutes. It was the first time he'd seen a dinosaur, and the first time his parents had seen one with hair. Geez, when I was a kid there were only about four dinosaurs, now it's up to 227 according to the Natural History Museum in London. I think Frank has met about four. There are at least 223 more.

We'll be getting a family membership to the museum this week and check back in there a couple times a month.

Later, after his afternoon nap, the family went to Chung-yo Department Store for Frank's first ride on an escalator, and his first bookstore. Eslite has the best selection of kids' books in Taichung, and extraordinarily helpful sales staff. It being Sunday, the place was packed with readers. Franklin found tons of books to fall in love with and tons of kids to share with, but everyone there was reading silently at a table, as if studying. Maggie and I watched as he carried a book to a table and showed it to a girl concentrating hard on a comic. In our house, kids books are read out loud. I think he was bewildered that there were so many books and it was so quiet.

As he was busying himself with that end of the hunt, I asked the sales assistant if she could help us find some dinosaur books for extremely young kids. She found the DK My First Dinosaur Board Book with 34 dinosaurs and reptiles. I picked up The Little Mouse, The Red Ripe Strawberry, and The Big Hungry Bear, by Don Wood, and The Red Book, not the one by Chairman Mao, this one's by Barbara Lehman. Nice bit of science fiction. When we were about ready to split, the woman who had helped us earlier showed Franklin a British pop-up book of Dinosaurs. He was in awe. He brought the book over and showed us, then he carried it back to the counter. The sales woman said she thought he wanted her to read it to him. He held it to her in both hands and earnestly said xie-xie.

Everywhere we go, people have commented on how polite a young boy he is. He certainly does stick out like a sore thumb. I made sure to talk to his teacher this morning and thank her for doing a good job socializing him. He hasn't met a stranger yet.

More pictures eventually, keep your hair on.

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