My MLK Day

On Monday, January 16, 2012, I joined a huge crowd of patrons and went to the Carnegie Science Center. With the day off from school and work, we took my two youngest dreamers and headed out on the dreary overcast day. Seemed a fitting day to be out in the community.

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You know, the CSC is really fun. There are several things I can attest are true.

1. Trains are cool. I don’t care who you are- trains are cool.

Those miniature figures and houses and theme park details really get your attention.

Watching trains? Mesmerizing.

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And really, what kid doesn’t like blowing the horn like the conductor?

I can’t imagine how many kids blew that whistle while we were there, but that poor man smiled at each one.

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2. Science is much more fun when you get to drop things from 20 feet over your head and pop things using air pressure about 10 feet above you.

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3. Watching movies on a dome ceiling from reclining chairs makes Mister Rogers Neighborhood of Make Believe  100 times cooler. (However, if your kids are 5 and 6, they may not appreciate the animated Mars Rover climbing across said ceiling when you go to watch the next show, but the reclining seats will keep them entertained and relaxed enough that you can watch the entire thing.)

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4. Nothing beats robots.

Literally.

The basketball and air hockey playing robots

were kicking everyone’s tushies.

And figuratively?

Adults are just big kids

when it comes to watching or playing with/against robots.

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We had a great time, as did all the many diverse families that came out to explore some science and have some fun. But, the most significant part of my day came at the end.

Now, I don’t why kids do some of the things they do. I guess all that exploring science made my youngest wonder what exactly would happen if he left his arm extended between the door frame and the slowly closing, heavy, wooden bathroom door. Did I mention heavy?

So there he is, little arm straight out and me sorting the coats so we can get ready to leave after everyone’s potty needs are complete. That “mom instinct” makes me turn the 15 degrees to my right to see him doing this arm crush experiment upon his exit from the restroom.

At the same time that I am calmly calling his name, in my no-nonsense mom voice, to “please take your arm out of the door” (translated from the slightly louder version in my head that went, what the heck are you doing, you’re going to get hurt, quit doing that right now)…

another woman is calling out, “hey, honey, don’t put your arm in there.” Twice. Because, like me, she must have wondered if he was going to remove it in time. Thankfully, his reason/logic/boredom sets in and he turns and walks away.

 I turn to thank the woman at the same time she is apologizing to me. APOLOGIZING for making sure my kid came to his senses. She says, “I’m sorry. I’m a mom, it just came out.” Of course I tell her to not be sorry and thank her for looking out for him. I walk over to talk to her. We exchange how it’s always a surprise what kids will come up with, what a great day it has been for our families, some anecdotes and comparisons about things our kids really liked in the Science Center, and just some very ordinary conversation between moms.

It didn’t really hit me until a few moments later what a perfectly relevant moment for the day that her intervention to my son’s misguided curiosity and the ordinary talk between moms that ensued was.  A mother identifying with another mother. I am white. She is black. As she walked away, a few steps in front of us, she turned back to me with a smile and said, “Happy Martin Luther King Day.” I didn’t skip a beat in wishing her the same.

If only it were that easy for everyone.

Simply Put- The only barriers that keep us from seeing how similar we are to one another, are the ones we put up when we’re looking for the differences.

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