If you take your Nine-Year-Old to the Shedd Aquarium…

She’ll ask you to take a picture of her by the growth chart, and you will be shocked to discover that your baby is now almost 4 and a half feet tall. 

She’s not even standing up straight. I think she’s trying to spare me the shock of it. (Photo: Shala Howell)


She’ll try to distract you from marveling over her own size by saying the words “Look, Mommyo, these spiders are as big as cats.” And then she will engage you in a spirited discussion about whether or not the word “tiger” belongs in a spider’s name. 

You will both be relieved to finally reach the tanks full of fish, where you will finally remember that you are carrying a camera.

Photo: Shala Howell


There will be lots of pausing as The Nine-Year-Old takes extensive notes. She doesn’t want to forget any of it. Even the bits you’re much happier forgetting all about. Like the fact that there are spiders in the Amazon with “tiger” in their name. 

But finally she’ll move on to the Amphibians exhibit, where you will both marvel at brightly colored itty-bitty frogs…

The yellow frog is actually a Harlequin frog. The others are the dart frogs (Photo: Shala Howell)

Solomon Island leaf frogs…

Solomon Island leaf frog. While writing this post, I just realized for the first time that there are two frogs in this picture. That’s some great camouflage! (Photo: Shala Howell)


Giant toads…

Cane toad. Nine-year-old provided for comparison purposes. (Photo: Shala Howell)


And your first newt…

So that’s a newt! (Photo: Shala Howell)


Well, Mommyo’s first newt. The Nine-Year-Old saw one as a mere Five-Year-Old on a nature hike at Moosehill.   

They’re so cute The Nine-Year-Old wants to adopt one. I’m sure you know where this post is going. 

The Nine-Year-Old, made wary by her previous experience keeping crickets in a house full of cat, “Mommyo, do cats eat newts?” 

That, my dear, is a Caterpickle for another day. Fortunately, because all these photos are about to break my iPad. 

Only two more weeks until I can use a real computer again. 

Related Links: 

About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book, Did Dinosaurs Have Belly Buttons?, is currently planned for release in 2018. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Ten-Year-Old at Caterpickles.com, chatting about books and the writing life at BostonWriters.blog, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
This entry was posted in Nature, Out and About and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to If you take your Nine-Year-Old to the Shedd Aquarium…

  1. Pingback: “Do cats eat newts?” | CATERPICKLES

What are you thinking?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s