Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Butterflies Flutter By...

Or so they say. Today I took H on a little field trip to "Magical Wings Butterfly Conservatory" in South Deerfield (home of Yankee Candles), along with my friend Alex and her boys. H loves butterflies, and is quick to identify any image he sees of them, especially on his tin tea set from Granny.

I'd been building up the trip all week, with each day saying "In __ days we get to go to the butterfly museum!" It was very exciting to say "H, today we get to go to the butterfly museum!" That is, until I had to say about 5 times..."Do you want to go to the butterfly museum? Then (let me change your diaper/put on your shoes/stop running around like a hooligan)!" After much drama, H was securely installed in the car, and we headed over to Alex' to pick them up so we could make the trek together...one big happy family.

In my mind, I imagined the peaceful butterflies that you see in the wild...you know, one or two flitting from flower, to tree to a blade of grass next to you? All very benign and graceful to watch.

Upon arrival, it was noted that there were no strollers allowed. I approached the 'friendly' woman behind the counter in the gift shop, about to ask politely where we were supposed to store our strollers, when 'Elaine' (I don't know why I used quotes because that's her real name) looked up in the increasingly-familiar New England style (aka hostile and unfriendly customer service folks) and said "Sign."

Me: What?
Elaine: Sign.
Me: I'm sorry, what sign are you talking about? (I again asked her to what she was referring, because most other humans speak to each other in more than grunts and points.)
Elaine: (With effort) No Strollers!
Me: (In my head only of course)No sh*% Sherlock, I was trying to ask where I might store mine.
Elaine: Coat Closet
Me: Thanks. Where is the coat closet?
Elaine: (pointing a pudgy dismissive finger into the far reaches of the cafeteria).

Oh, duh, how could I have missed it?! Oh, I know, BECAUSE IT'S IN AN UNMARKED CORNER!

Stroller safely stored, we were on our way to experience 'magical wings.' I paid my exorbitant entrance fee, and got a cute stamp on my hand. H and I traversed the gift shop, with every butterfly themed object you can imagine and entered the first room. In it, I saw no butterflies. I did, however, see tanks containing poison dart frogs and baby button quail. Alrighty then. This was destined to be right on par with all the other New England anomalies. You can rest assured that if you ever go to something in New England, the object of the center will not be the only thing you'll be treated to that day.

H was intrigued with the multi-colored frogs, and the tiny baby quail. Alex' OS was quickly thinking he'd been duped, when we saw the double doors inviting us into the conservatory. The sign reminding you to look in the mirror to ensure there were no "hitch-hikers" upon exit, gave me the first clue that this may be a less than magical experience.

In case I've never mentioned it before, H has thus far been enthralled with the idea of most animals. He loves looking at things that are separated from himself by glass or another partition, but gets a little overwhelmed when it's up close and personal.

Yeeeeesssss, glad I thought this one through.

We opened the doors and were treated to a blast of hot air, similar to the entrance of any Target where the heater is just over the entrance. Sweet. Just what a whale of a pregnant lady needs, more heat.

From the second I stepped foot in that (to copy the Simpsons) Tree-house of Horrors, I knew I'd made a grave lapse in judgement. Don't worry, it wouldn't be my last of the day. There was no fluttering. There were large swarms of butterflies darting, dipping and buzzing all around.

I am the person who inwardly freaks out at just the thought of entering the aviary at the zoo. I thought that I'd be able to control myself, but it was really hard to not swat at them each time they were going to land on me. I went into convulsions when one landed on my arm, and then a really pretty, brilliant blue butterfly landed on H's head and I shrieked excitedly to Alex to get a picture (I know a good photo op when I see one.) Yeah, it may not have been the best idea to call attention to the fact that there was one on H's head, because he went into the same convulsions I just had, and almost ended up with butterfly guts on his head. I'm pretty sure that would have been frowned upon, as there were signs all over "Don't Touch the Butterflies!" "Do Not Pick Up Flowers From the Ground!" "Do Not Touch the Butterfly Food, It Contaminates It!"

I felt like I was in the middle of The Birds, as Hitchcock himself could not have hoped for a more creepy set-up. We were making our expected rounds, and I spotted BIRD cages on the ground with little finches inside. We owned finches growing up, and nothing spazzed me out more than when those little suckers escaped upon cleaning the cage one day. I looked over at Alex, and quipped that I was glad they were in the cage, as I'd be a goner if there were birds flying around....until I noticed the sign that the birds were just "in quarantine" until they were acclimated, as they were a new addition. Yes, there were freakin' birds flying around in the mix...nobody warned me of this!

I remembered that I was a 28 year-old woman who needed to set a good example for her child, and kept walking talking in that uber positive voice to H about how pretty the butterflies were. When it landed on him, I reminded him they were just giving him 'butterfly kisses' and that they really liked him. I seriously need to evaluate the shampoo I use on him, because the poor kid was a butterfly magnet.

We had almost made it out the door, when a staff member was walking around and had something in her hand. 'Would you like to hold it?' she asked Alex's son sweetly. He was more than excited and did a great job with the little GECKO she placed on his hand. I inwardly shivered, and felt my heart drop when H told me he wanted to have a turn. I knew what would happen, but didn't want to deprive him of the chance. I told him it would be really exciting, but tried to warn that it would "tickle" him, as I think he fully thought it would be like his little plastic "Geicko Gecko". I softly told the staff member that he would mostly likely shake it off his hand so to please hold his hand and be ready. This was out of H's ear-shot because I didn't want to sabotage him. Sure enough, that thing was on his hand and he freaked out. Oh well, at least he's being 'exposed' to all life has to offer.

I let out a huge sigh of relief as we re-entered the room with glass cases, and a normal air temperature.

After eating lunch and buying a pink and purple butterfly ball for H (the only color combo available, which I thought was odd), I spotted a jar of beautiful butterfly lolly-pops, and a butterfly cookie cutter. I got three lolly-pops for the kids for the ride home, and the cookie cutter to make butterfly pbj's at home.

At the car, I pulled out the lollies, and all the kids were really excited. I noted to Alex that it was great because the sticks were plastic, so wouldn't get all mushy like the traditional paper sticks. After taking one look at the (no kidding) two-foot long, skinny, floppy stick, Alex, much wiser than I, quipped 'Yeah, OS is going to enjoy hitting his brother with that.' We both agreed that none of the kids would think of that.

Not even two feet down the highway, we heard the telltale 'pop pop' of a lolly touching something other than an appreciative tongue. I looked in the rear view mirror and saw the candy flashing around the three car seats like the light-sabers in Luke's duel with Darth Vader. It was a matter of minutes before the first one broke and tears were shed...ah well, what can you do? The road is paved with good intentions, they say.


Alex Elliot said...

That place was so weird, but my kids loved it. I'm having a flashback to their claim of gourmet ice cream.

Unknown said...

I took my kids there and they had a blast. If I'd known you were going I could have told you more about it so you'd be prepared... also I could have given you local restaurant recommendations.
I'm sorry it was so upsetting for you, we really liked it!

Sally HP said...

My posts are meant to be sarcastic and a little exaggerative...H and I had a good time, and would go back if we were invited by someone to do so...no lasting trauma :)(We just wouldn't buy a family pass or anything)