A Trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific

May 4, 2015

(Arizona checking out the jellyfish)

Last week, I was a chaperone for a school trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. I wasn’t planning on going, but Arizona’s aide had an important appointment that day, so I took her place. I adore all of the other first graders and it is always good for me to see Arizona in action with her classmates, so it ended up being a really fun day.

As always, I am conscious of how Arizona experiences things. Are the lights too bright? Is it too crowded? Are the acoustics torturing her?

Over all, we had a peaceful visit. It was crowded with school kids, but not overwhelming for Arizona. There was an area upstairs by the penguin exhibition that was closed off for repairs. Unfortunately, it was right in the middle of the walkway, and the noise of the drills and other machines were too unexpected for Arizona. In these moments, she can get stuck – literally. She stood there with her hands over her ears, anxiety growing. I was able to gently coax her past the workers, where we took a moment to process her feelings about what just happened.

Arizona : “Mommy, there weren’t supposed to be loud sounds!”

Me : “It really sounds like having the workers there was a surprise.”

Arizona : “YES! I didn’t know they were going to do work today.”

Me : “It must have been a worry, when you started hearing the noises.”

Arizona : “I was worried that the noise would keep going forever.”

She eventually calmed down and we enjoyed the rest of our field trip. In her anxious moment, I was able to be present and simply connect with her.

What are some of the ways that you stand in challenging moments with your child? What are some of your routines for tackling “big feelings”?

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