Because my LittleBear is awesome at swimming, and I'm not actually a heartless bitch, we went to London for his Really Big Treat. We went to the Natural History Museum. And to make it doubly exciting, we stayed in a hotel the night beforehand; and to make it triply exciting my lovely friend C who works there signed us in half an hour before the doors officially opened; and to make it quadruply exciting my lovely friend J (an actual palaeontologist) took the day off work and took us round all the best bits and knew loads more than I could hope to - enough even to keep LittleBear satisfied.
It basically goes without saying that we had a fantastic time. There were dinosaurs, and marine reptiles, and mammals, and birds, and fish, and volcanoes and earthquakes and the solar system, and so much more than we could possibly see in one day without LittleBear collapsing in a little sobbing puddle of exhaustion. LittleBear collapsed in a little sobbing puddle of exhaustion.
I'm not, however, going to write a review of the NHM, which you should all, definitely, immediately go to. More than once. I'm going to instead illustrate our trip with some insights into The Wonderful World of LittleBear.
... there was the terrible moment when we nearly left a ring-tailed lemur eating a broccoli stalk on the side of my dinner plate, and had to call the waitress back to rescue a beloved toy.
... there was the small, sobbing boy who wanted to have another bath simply so he could use the wall-mounted soap-dish in the hotel as a diving board for his dinosaurs (and ring-tailed lemur) and was inconsolable because we don't have such a luxurious feature in our own humble bathroom.
... there was the horrified small boy with his hands clamped over his ears begging me to turn it off and find David Attenborough on the television when I rashly thought he might like to watch CBeebies while I showered in the hotel.
... there was the look I can't describe on C's face, hovering between amusement, bemusement and amazement, as a 4-year old boy rushed up to an exhibit, gazed at the sign next to it and announced, "it's a Temnodontosaurus!"
... there were glorious conversations between J and LittleBear:
J: What do you think it is?
LB: An Apatosaurus?
J: Not quite as big as that
LB: A brachiosaurus?
J: Nearly. A bit smaller, and without the hump on its head. It begins with Cee
J: Ah, no, a hard "c" not a soft "s"
J: That's right!
... there was watching my boy stroke a meteorite, and when asked if he knew what it was made of, a swelling pride as he said "Iridium?"
... there was a small boy who is terrified of the sound of hand driers rushing back to re-visit the giant, roaring, animatronic T.rex, totally unfazed by the noise.
... there was the opportunity to delight in C's favourite exhibit: an owl with a pencil in its ear. How else, after all, can the diligent curator indicate that the location of an owl's ears is not in the tufts on its head?
... there was J giving my LittleBear his very own ichthyosaur vertebra as a present, that LittleBear keeps getting out of his Precious Box of Treasures to stroke.
... there was LittleBear standing and studying the array of ancient and modern elephants and mammoths before solemnly informing me that it was showing me the "evolvance" of elephants.
... there was LittleBear trustingly tucking his hand into J's to climb up and down stairs. There is nothing more lovely than seeing my boy trust and like one of my friends.
... there was J showing us the "secret dinosaurs" in the galleries nobody else remembers to visit, and that I would indubitably not have found if left to my own devices.
And, last but by no means least, there was this sight...
For which I can thank C, for letting us in before the public, and Lady Luck for allowing me to catch the perfect moment of childhood awe and wonder when LittleBear met Dippy.