The halls were jammed with families, coats, and strollers. Tickets in hand, we made our way from each game to the next, kids collecting trinket-prizes at each one. The signs above each door named the activity inside.

“Snowball Grab”

“Toboggan Run”

“Ice Hockey”

Then, at the far end of a back hall, the sign read “Animal Discovery.”

My son turned to his sister and said, “We gotta go there! That’s my science lab!”

He had come home from the first day of science lab bouncing with excitement. “Mom, they have tanks with lizards and frogs and snakes! And there’s only one rule! Don’t touch each other! We can touch everything in there!”

He showed us around the tables with jawbones and skulls of various indigenous animals, helped his little brother find the tarantula, and introduced us to the bearded lizard.

bearded dragon and boy

My husband and I soaked in their curiosity as all three took turns holding or touching the lizard and the snake. The science teacher was all smiles, saying “I have the best job in the world.”

box turtle and boy

In the lab across the hall, the kids discovered two box turtles and a giant Madagascar hissing cockroach.

I despise cockroaches. They give me the creeps. But I am resolved not to predispose my kids to disliking something just because I do. I hid behind the camera and kept a safe distance, as our kids pushed right up to the front. Both daughter and youngest son let the creature crawl up and down their arms, giggling and delighted at the freedom to touch and explore.

girl and cockroach

cockroach on girl

I think this is one of the best parts of parenting – watching your children explore and learn and find the things that they love. I thought my heart would burst when we prayed together at bedtime that night. Each of them said that their favorite part of the whole carnival (games, candy, chintzy prizes, and all) was getting to hold the animals.

81. Everyone healthy enough to attend the school carnival together

82. A fun way to spend a cold February Saturday

83. Games set up so that everyone gets a little something even if they don’t “win”

84. A science teacher who loves teaching

85. The incredible variety in the animal world

86. The unadulterated curiosity of children

87. Glimpses of our son’s emerging interests and skills

88. Another child reading!

89. The excitement of planning a summer getaway

90. God’s healing in both  my heart and others’ through vulnerable posts like this one

91. Questions and the answers they expose

92. People who care enough to push me to think and re-think

93. A healthier perspective on friendship and what it takes to strengthen one

94. Discovering that I still know the things my first daughter taught me to see

95. Discovering that these things I learned can help someone else

***

Like what you see here? Subscribe for free! Click here to add Joy in This Journey to your preferred blog reader or receive new posts by email.