Our adventure today was made possible by an incredibly generous and kind friend who gave Maymay tickets to the Titanic exhibition at the Franklin Institute. THANK YOU Kyle! I hope you and your beautiful family know how much we appreciate your kindness.
As we walked into the Franklin Institute, complete dread set in the pit of my stomach. There were hundreds of people in the front lobby. If that many people were just in the lobby, this was going to be an extraordinary crowded day. Turns out that most of the crowd were in line for tickets. Lucky for us we already had tickets, so we got to bypass the huge never-ending line and go to a long but faster moving line. DQ took Maymay and her friend over to the steps to sit and wait while I navigated the queue to get our timed tickets. By the time I made it to the front I was a nervous wreck. The place was getting more crowded by the minute and Maymay has a huge issue with crowds. And people. And crowds of people. Anyway, the lady asked me what time we'd like to go through the exhibit. I decided to ask her advice on what to do. Turns out one of the directors was at the counter handling a situation so she came over and, after talking with me for a bit, asked me to meet her at 5:30pm and she'd have us go in with the last group, which should be smaller than the 250-300 group average they had been sending in.
So we start wandering around and stopping at anything that caught Maymay's attention. The friend that we brought with us had never been there before, so the girls were having a blast exploring and playing. Somehow we managed to go the opposite way from most of the crowd. I don't know how we got this lucky, but I wasn't about to waste a moment questioning it.
I'm not sure if they always have paper making, but they should. All three girls just had to make paper, had fun and learned something. The volunteer working the station was hysterical and told really lame jokes. It was awesome.
We headed out to the observatory for solar observing. They had the refracting telescope set up so you could see sun spots. Maymay seriously loved it. She had to almost be physically removed and didn't want to leave. Of course she asked me to get her a telescope. I wonder if she thinks I'd get her one of these bad boys? Nah...
We moved on to the sports challenge room. Now, let me say this. Maymay doesn't like sports. Not even a little. She did love riding the mechanical surfboard. I was extremely impressed with her balance and seeing her giggle made my day. We then headed to the train room to play on old trains, and then off to the airshow room to play with all kinds of random flying things. We also stumbled into Sir Isaac's loft to see the science of ships. Maymay had a blast learning morse code, and now I'm waiting for her to ask me for a transmitter.
I got lucky and found a quiet corner so the kids could eat a snack and get a break. I can't get over how crowded it was and how we managed to avoid most of it. Wherever we saw lines, we went the other way. Maymay didn't get cranky once, and I had quite a few interesting conversations with other parents.
We headed over to meet the director from earlier, and the night manager was waiting for us. She said they had a surprise for us, which made Maymay "flappy happy". The manager took us the super secret way (that made Maymay BEYOND excited) through staff only accesses. When she got us there she let me know they decided to give us VIP treatment - a private tour. We had the entire exhibit to ourselves and a security guard. She said they wanted Maymay to take her time and get to see everything she wanted to see. The guard and Maymay hit it off instantly and he let Maymay break a few rules and touch things that shouldn't be touched and go behind the ropes to see stuff. My kiddo looked at EVERYTHING. She read everything there was to read, looked at each and every artifact and told us the facts she knew about it. The guard was impressed and tried to out-fact her. Yeah, he lost the fact war. We pretended we were on the ship and went up and down the grand staircase. We then had a contest to see who could walk down the staircase like they belonged in first class. Yeah, Maymay won that too. I think the guard chose her because he was bonding with Berry. The iceberg was cool (see what I did there?) and we had to play with it for a bit. Another guard joined our party and we all played with the iceberg until our hands were frozen. They had a few interactive videos and even a 3D video that Maymay sat and watched. I was starting to rush her and the guard stopped me and said they wanted her to take her time and see everything. So I relaxed and let her explore it all. We stayed in the exhibit for THREE HOURS. (It was estimated to be about an hour in length) Maymay was in her happy place and legitimately saw everything there was to see. After I thanked them for their kindness and we started heading out, I realized we were the last people left in the museum. We walked through the darkened lobby and made jokes about being locked inside. It was a wonderful day. Matter of fact, even the parking ticket I got didn't dampen my mood one bit. My kiddo was allowed to roam the entire exhibit with no restrictions and without anyone getting in her way. I can't think of a better way to spend a day off from work.