Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Planetarium

For every birthday that comes along in our family, we try to do something special. This past week my husband not only celebrated his birthday, but Father's Day followed shortly after. We decided to head down to the Indianapolis Children's Museum, as it was the request of our two daughters and their father loves them enough to give up his fishing plans.

The Indianapolis Children's Museum is huge. It has 5 floors of exhibits, which could fill 2-3 days full of learning fun. It has a working antique carousel, paleontologists on hand, a theater, a library, and a planetarium. It is absolutely awesome.

My girls recognized the building, even though it's been over a year since we had visited. They kept thanking us for bringing them to the museum and became giggly as we parked the car. They skipped across the bridge into the museum, and waited anxiously in the line to get in.

They posed for a few pictures for me, as the museum had an awesome display of famous paintings made with Jelly Bellies, that I just had to capture.

When we headed down to the Dinosphere to check out the dinosaur exhibit, we passed a Super Croc skeleton. A museum employee had a table set up for the children to see and touch the Super Croc's teeth. The museum employee asked the girls where their teeth are, my girls obliged, opening their mouths for the lady to see.

The employee asked Kate if any of her teeth were loose yet, and Kate said no. The employee then told Kate to keep her teeth when they fall out, as she could put them under her pillow for the tooth fairy to collect in exchange for money. Without missing a beat, Kate looked quizzically at the adult woman in front of her and said, "The tooth fairy isn't real." I know that surprised the employee, as Kate is of the age to believe in things like that. But Kate has no reason to, as I have never lied to her.

When they had a choice between going to the Science exhibit or going to the Barbie exhibit, they chose Science. They love dolls, they love to play, but when given the choice, they wanted to experiment, they wanted to learn. And that made me so proud.

Towards the end of our visit we decided to watch the last showing of "Wonders of the Universe", which goes from the beginning of time to present day in regards to the Universe. It uses images captured by the Hubble telescope, and is full of scientific explanations.

In the introduction, the narrator said that watching this show was akin to 'being able to see through the eyes of god'. I chuckled a little because it caught me a little off guard and I almost felt like the science behind it was being apologetic to the potential religious folks in the audience.  Like they had to say something ignorant in order to help the devout religious folks retain interest in the rest of the show.

My girls watched in awe as we saw groups of stars, suns and planets, galaxies and the Milky Way, right up through our Solar System. I was a proud momma, besides a few requests for a drink, my preschoolers watched and asked really good questions throughout.

As we were leaving the planetarium, my girls were bustling about with curiosities and questions. That is when the lady exiting in front of us opened her mouth and loudly stated, "That was all based on that no good Big Bang Theory. We all know that God Jesus created everything." Granted, I am sure she directed that ignorant statement towards the 10 year old boy she was with, but my children overheard it, as did everyone within 100 feet of her, which I believe was her intention.

It wasn't difficult for me to keep my mouth shut. I don't like confrontation, and that lady is free to believe whatever she wants to believe. It kinda saddened me that she was forcing that kind of ignorance onto her 10 year old companion, but it's a free country and not up to me to correct her. What I was able to do was pull aside my own freethinking children and start a little discussion on why that lady said those things.

My girls understand that some people believe in a god, some people believe in gods and goddesses, some people believe in Santa, some people believe in a heaven and some people believe in a devil. They know that I don't.

I don't correct them when they do decide to believe in things that I don't believe in, but they tend to change their mind about what is real and what isn't, as they are still only 4 and 5 years old. Which is fine. I am an atheist, they are not. They are too young to be able to know what they believe in. They are still sketchy about dragons and unicorns, how could they possibly know whether or not there is a divine power that controls us all and decides whether we all live and die? Or whether or not there is life after our bodies stop working?

But as long as I am able to teach them that science can prove many things, but not all (at least not yet), I know I am doing a good job raising my freethinkers.

Picture: The dinosaurs in front of the Indianapolis Children's Museum, trying to break in through the roof.


Tanit-Isis said...

When my oldest was about seven, it finally occurred to me that it was a bit odd that I would happily tell her that Santa and the Tooth Fairy were real, but felt compelled to be honest about my disbelief in a god. I guess it was because Santa and the Tooth Fairy are both transitory (everyone grows out of them) and unimportant. Although frankly, I just hadn't thought about it. I might do it differently now... although that's water under the bridge at this point.

I don't think I've commented here before, but I really enjoy your blog. Not having ever really had a religion to leave, the struggles of people who must actively throw it off are incredibly poignant to me, and I feel very grateful, as a reader, that you have been willing to share bits of yours.

And that children's museum sounds amazing...

Aylin said...

It was a very nice post. You have very smart children, it's hard to believe they are only 4 years old. But I think it is because of the way you raised them. Because I see lots of smart children around and they stay smart till their parents brainwash them with their stupid beliefs, gods and teach them how to hate others just because they don't belive in something, which there's no proof that it exist. It's really sad. It's like that mom telling his son that "Big Bang Theory is no good". I think you're doing a great job raising your children (or your freethinkers, as you call them). I wish there were more parents like you...