We were pretty excited to make the decision to visit the Seattle Aquarium while we were here.
Doodle was especially surprised because he loves octopi.
He loves drawing them, looking at them, watching them in videos, and reading/learning about them.
And the day we were to visit the aquarium was during Octopus Week...BONUS!
As it turns out, this would not be Doodle's best aquarium visit.
First off, the Seattle Aquarium is EXPENSIVE!
It cost us $80 to get in.
After having such a great experience at the free aquarium in Poulsbo that had an octopus, we expected the aquarium to deliver for this insane price.
They did not.
The place was packed [this will be important later]. There was a line just to get in the front door and wait in another line to pay admission. Kids love waiting in lines; especially three of them! ;)
As an unschooling family, we rely on places like this to educate our kids.
Unfortunately it's really hard to explain to your kids what they are looking at when some guy puts his phone in between my face and a tank to take a photo. I'm sure his Instagram followers are all the better for it. This happened twice. Not the same guy. Seriously, people?
However, there were lots of great exhibits. If it didn't cost so much to walk in the door, we'd attempt a visit during the week when it's not as busy (hopefully).
We got to see lots of sea creatures like octopus, sea stars, urchins, salmon, jellyfish, crabs, and more.
And then we LOST Doodle!
Yep. We did the thing parents fear most.
I saw him looking for us, slowly starting to walk to where I was.
Then he turned. And looked the other direction. And then started walking that direction.
So I started after him.
Being so overly packed with people, he was able to get through the crowds faster than I. The next corner I turned after losing sight of him...he was gone.
I started panicking. Yana did not see me turn to go get him, and I didn't have time to tell her because I didn't want to take my eyes off of him.
I'm looking everywhere, left and right, as I move through exhibits looking for the short boy in the dark blue hooded jacket.
I couldn't find him.
I reached the main building, passing through the corridor outside. There were so many people in the main atrium area with the touch pools. I still couldn't see that blue jacket anywhere.
I got to thinking, "Would he be able to open all these doors and enter an entirely different building? Was it so busy with enough people that the doors were opening enough for him to keep going?"
Then the worst idea entered my mind. "What if he went out an exterior exit or fire door and now he's walking out on the street?"
I was really fucking scared at that point.
Would someone help him if they found him walking the sidewalk outside? Or would they just ignore him?
We're really good at ignoring our surroundings these days, so I couldn't discount the notion. Those mobile phones are gripping our attention constantly that we miss the world around us. We all know it.
I was worried he may become a statistic because of it.
So I reset myself and thought that maybe I missed him, rentered the secondary building, and quickly tracked down Yana. Two sets of eyes are better than one.
We went through the second building together, still unable to locate the boy in the blue hooded jacket.
We exited into the outside corridor and he came bursting out of the main building door with tears streaming down his face. He bolted for Mom's arms.
I was filled with so many emotions.
I was glad we found him. I was upset that no one noticed a boy walking around alone crying. I looked around to see if anyone was noticing our interaction. No good samaritan appeared.
I was mad at myself. We're fairly attentive parents and have been in many countries where we let the kids kind of run amok. We have been in dangerous situations on sailboats, busy streets of NYC, etc.
And this was the first time I felt like we failed as parents.
In an aquariium. In America.
How messed up is that?