It's called the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum.
I've always known it as the "Bean Museum."
I remember as a kid my dad took us all there a few times. I remember how amazed I was by all the animals there, especially the white tiger... that was always the best animal to see there because it was so rare. The best part of being there though, was to be with my dad.
He had rough, calloused hands from working on the farm and he would grab my tiny hand into his, lean down and tell me what he new about certain animals, or a story about that animal or explained to me how they had been preserved. I honestly could never tell you all the things he told me... I may not have been really listening, or maybe it was just all over my head (he tends to do that).
I just remember how nice it was to spend time with Daddy.
That was the best part.
Marc and I have been a bit gun shy to do anything really adventurous with the kids since our crazy time in the Tetons last summer. Every time we try an outing we are reminded of how hard and un-normal our family is.
We had a Monday with Marc home from work and the kids home from school on the same day. We thought this would be a great time to try another family outing.
Sister had mentioned the Bean Museum a few times so we thought we would give that a try.
Thirty minutes before leaving, Brother whined for solid the entire half hour about not wanting to go and wanting to stay home. Sister cried because he was crying and so she had to make sure to get mad at him, which made her mad at us, which started up her anxiety. Baby tried to argue but she's still small enough to pick up and carry to the car even if she is protesting.
For the full 13 minutes it took us to get there, I believe Marc and I had nerve endings that were dangling out the rolled-up windows flapping in the wind and knocking sensitively up against the car with a few of them being twisted and ripped by the small hands placed behind us as the screaming and complaining was non-stop.
It was awful.
It was relentless.
It was our family.
We got into the parking lot and the anxieties began to flurry about the car like bright lightening bugs on crack! Sister decided she didn't want to be at the museum and was screaming her demands to leave. Brother was yelling at Sister to stop yelling and Baby was crying in response to all the noise.
I know Marc and I thought about just bagging the entire idea and driving straight back home where Brother could watch TV, Sister could talk to herself while lining things up in her room and Baby could rehearse her "My Little Pony" episodes word for word while playing with her toys.
"NO!" we thought in our heads (in unison, even, I think), we have got to get our kids out and about and keep them social and not hide away where we are safe and comfortable.
Marc and I were becoming weary of safe and comfortable... we felt cooped up and trapped in our house and refused to allow ourselves and our children to become prisoners of Fragile X Syndrome.
So Marc took one girl, I took the other and Brother was able to get into the museum safely without us having to hold his hand or drag him.
We were in.
We did it.
Brother went into flight mode as he tried to hide in a corner of the gift shop next to the door way we had just entered while Sister was still screaming at the top of her lungs that she wanted to go home and Baby ran off somewhere and I ran after her while Marc stayed back to calm Sister.
By the time we all had gathered together in the gift shop we allowed our kids to gain some composure while getting excited about all the toys, magnets and books there.
After about 20 minutes we were able to venture out to see the animals.
It was going great!
I mean as great as it can with our family... we still had to run around, gathering, monitoring and reprimanding just as we would for three-year-old triplets...
Our "easy" isn't really even easy.
But the kids were smiling and excited.
Yes, you could see their anxiety, but they were keeping it under control so that they could enjoy seeing the displays that were so intriguing to them.
We even got some pictures:
|This was exciting for the kids to pet the tiger that the staff was bringing around.|
|There were moments like these when I listened to Marc talk to the kids about the different animals that took me back to a time when I came here with my dad.|
|Brother was pretty excited about the zebra|
|Sister was fearfully intrigued by this display, was able to find some safety in her Daddy's arms.|
|I look at this picture now and wonder if that's what me |
and my dad looked like as he held my hand walking through the museum.
I hope Sister remembers more of these kind of moments than the moments that came shortly after this picture was taken...
It wasn't good.
Sister just started to have a major panic attack. Her anxiety had caught up to her and had taken control.
I am sure everyone heard her fears as she screamed about what stairway we were taking, or how we were getting there.
She was hysterical and hard to calm down as she started to act as if she had been trapped.
Marc and I had to split up and take kids as we could handle them and get them out to the car.
It was like gathering little frightened piglets and I am surprised we succeeded, but we finally got all five of us in the car.
Marc and I sat there trying to stay calm while all 3 kids were complaining in the back of the car and, Sister, especially was still having huge anxiety issues.
We had promised the kids we would go to a park that day too.
There was 90% of our brains that were thinking we should just skip the park and then the small 10% left over was being reminded that this was part of what we had explained to them would happen that day so we needed to follow through for the sake of sticking with the schedule. Of course, too, we had to let Fragile X know that it hadn't beaten us down.
Sister screamed and thrashed the entire drive to the park.
Then she saw the park.
It was as if there had been no panic in her at all when we pulled into the parking lot to see the playground.
It was instant excitement for all the kids.
The excitement of the park had melted away the panic of getting there.
Marc got in there and played with the kids.
When they were done at the park, there was no doubt about it.
They were done.