Yesterday we attended the much-anticipated Dinosaur Dig at the Montgomery Zoo. We counted down to the day for over a month! Wesley starts Kindergarten in August and tested for Heard Magnet School last month. We were all thrilled when less than two weeks later he received his acceptance letter! As a reward for his achievement, we let him pick anything he wanted to do. He knew about the Dino Dig, and chose that as his reward! The kid is dinosaur obsessed.
We were an excited family when we left town yesterday morning at 7:15AM. The two-hour trip is usually frustrating for the two little ones. Typically, there are dozens of, are we there yets? Surprisingly, yesterday’s trip went well. Both kiddos kept their headphones on majority of the time watching Rango. The dig didn’t start until 10:00AM, so we were there about an hour early, which was great. We didn’t have to rush and got to look around the front of the zoo a bit before meeting with the instructors.
When we met up with the instructors, we had to wait for all attending to arrive. There were 24 children total ranging in ages from 3-12. We followed the red shirted instructors across the zoo, through a huge green gate, and into a room that was set up like a little classroom. There were tables set up for the children and chairs around the room for their parents to sit in. Mr. Wayne, who obviously loves his job, had the kids come to the front of the room. He showed them different kinds of hides, bones, eggs, claws and skulls. (If everyone loved their jobs as much as he does, the world would be a much better place.) He excitedly explained to them what animal each of the items came from and how they were like dinosaurs. Next, there was a short power point presentation. It was kid friendly and only lasted about 5 minutes but explained dinosaurs in a broad way. Next, different live animals were brought around the room. We got to see a corn snake, Rhino lizard, a special kind of armadillo, and some sort of large hawk. The scales, armor, and claws were explained to be like those of the dinosaurs and were intended to help give the children an idea of what dinosaurs looked like in real life. After the animal presentation, the children were given “paleontologist vests” made from brown paper bags. They were able to color them however they wanted. Most of the children wore their vests, but Wesley and William did not. They were big on them. Finally, it was time to leave the classroom!
We followed the instructors around the zoo until we reached the dig sight. We reached a large canopy tent with a rectangle sandbox built out of wood. The sandbox was roped off into 5 sections: A, B, C, D, E. The children were given shovels and brushes and told to go at it! Wesley and William dug furiously stopping each time they heard a child say, “I found one!” to see what was found.
This is the point of the story where I must include some of the parental feelings going through me. The oldest children at the dig happened to be digging in the same square Wesley and William were. They were pulling up bones left and right, while our kids have yet to find one. Finally! William has found a bone. He cries out in a panic, “I found something!” The older kids look up and hurry to where William is digging. One of the kids moves to William’s side. As William goes to pull the bone out of the sand, the older kid pulls the other side of the bone up first saying, “He found that side, and I dug up this side.” William didn’t even get to hold the bone. He looked at me, and all I saw was sadness and questions on his face as to why he didn’t get the bone. Jeremiah and I encouraged him to keep digging, and of course he happily did. This happened one other time, with William and the same kid. By this time, I was starting to boil inside. Wesley still had not found one bone, and William had had two stolen. We were hearing other kids saying they had found 18 or 13 or 7 or other numbers that seemed outrageous. Wesley and William were getting discouraged, and you could read it all over their little faces. Jeremiah and I were attempting to hide our frustration from the boys by encouraging them, however, inside we were on fire. Wesley was digging by a little girl who was bragging about how many bones she had found. Jeremiah instructed Wesley to move to a spot that looked untouched, so he did. The girl followed. Not only did she go beside Wesley, but she literally sat on top of the hole Wesley was digging. Wesley looked at me clearly asking with his eyes what he was supposed to do. “Just keep digging Bug,” I said desperately wondering why no one was watching their children! Time was running out and we knew there were some bones left. Jeremiah decided he had to take matters into his own hands. He found an extra shovel and started moving sand. Finding a bone, but not telling Wesley, he told Wesley to keep digging in the same spot. Wesley looked up at us stating that he had found a bone! While other kids had been quickly and messily pulling them out of the sand, Wesley told us he had to be careful so that he would not break it. He cautiously dug around the bone, and said he needed his brush so he could start cleaning it off. Then an instructor says, “shovels and brushes down!” Jeremiah didn’t hesitate as he told Wesley to keep digging. The instructor asked the children to put their shovels down two more times, and Wesley and William were still digging under our instruction. Wesley had found the bone, and we weren’t going to let this moment be ruined. I walked to the instructor, knowing she was talking to my children, and I politely let her know this was the first bone Wesley had found, and we were going to let him keep digging. She had no issue with it. So, Wesley got his bone. It was a big one! In the process of helping him, William found a small bone that was buried with it. The boys were ecstatic.
The whole time the children were digging, Mr. Wayne was piecing together a dinosaur skeleton with the bones that were found on a large white sheet beside the dig. So, everyone got to see the dinosaur that they discovered!
Just like that, the long-awaited Dino Dig was over. Before we left the zoo we fed the giraffes and rode the sky lift!
During the actual dig, Jeremiah and I were stressed to the max. I’m pretty sure Jeremiah was sizing up dads to see which ones he would have to fight after saying something to their children. Regardless of our stress, when Jeremiah asked the boys how they liked the Dino Dig, Wesley replied, “It was my favorite!” In the end, I’m thankful they had a good time and are none the wiser of the red-hot feelings mom and dad had while they were digging. Despite having a good time, our boys are smart. They recognize that others found a lot of bones and they only found a few. They also recognize that some of the bones they found were taken by other children. I’m incredibly thankful that our kids are aware of their surroundings and how they act towards others.
Would we do it again? Probably. But only because Wesley truly loves dinosaurs.
How would you have reacted if your children were in a similar situation?