Archive for Thursday, May 22, 2008

Day with grandchildren always welcome

May 22, 2008

You can't be too rich, too thin or spend too much time with your grandchildren.

My oldest grandson Noah, who is the son of my middle daughter, lives with his sister and his parents in Wichita. They moved there last year, after about six years in Virginia. During that time we only got to see the grandchildren about once a year, so we've always tried to make special efforts to spend time with them since they've moved back to Kansas.

Therefore, when my daughter called a few weeks ago to say that Noah's fifth-grade class would be at Science City for a field trip, I immediately said I'd meet him there and tag along.

It's always great to spend time with your grandchildren, and getting the opportunity to do so in Kansas City's restored Union Station seemed an added benefit. I remember Union Station from when it served its original purpose and I confess to being something of a train buff, so visits there always trigger pleasant memories of earlier trips and adventures.

The day came. I got there in plenty of time. After walking around for a while, I found a seat and settled in to watch and wait.

A group of youngsters of about the right age assembled not far from the doors, but they were from Lexington, Mo. This was to happen several times. I later learned from one of the station people that Friday was going to be Union Station's busiest so far this year. More than 1,500 school children were expected that day. (This last fact would prove to be important.)

The group from Wichita rolled in about 11:15 a.m. on two charter buses, and Noah and I were soon reunited. Once they moved inside, the teachers decided to break for lunch first, before touring Science City and the other attractions. The children had brought their lunches, so I popped into the Harvey House and got a sandwich to go.

Alert readers will recall that 1,500 school children were expected that day. Most of them were in Science City when we got there, it seemed. The din that emanates from several hundred pre-adolescent youngsters who are enjoying themselves in an enclosed space borders on painful, I think.

But we persevered through all the exhibits in Science City, although the line for Pop Wheelie's Delivery Service, in which youngsters are strapped in to a bicycle that negotiates a wire suspended 30 feet over the floor, was a bit long .

After Science City, we toured the gift shop and had some ice cream before settling in for a 3-D movie at the Extreme Screen. The film, "Wild Ocean," follows the feeding frenzy that occurs every year when billions of pelagic fish migrate along the KwaZulu-Natal Wild Coast of Africa. The effect of the 3D film on such a large screen is that sometimes you feel as if you could reach out and touch the images.

Alas, when the movie was over, so was the visit, as the youngsters had to board the buses to return to Wichita and a few more days of school before being released for the summer. We said our goodbyes knowing that he and his sister will be back to visit during the summer.

I don't suppose anyone ever tires of spending time with their grandchildren, although I'm not sure my presence really enriched his experience all that much. I suspect most kids would be just as happy to spend time with their friends, without granddad in tow. At least I got to spoil him a little.


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