The joy of parenting a preschooler — a quiz

Along with my visiting parents, the Better Half and I took the Critter to the Boston Museum of Science today.  Including the 180-degree IMAX movie about dolphins, which feature of the museum do you think merited the most enthusiastic response and most eager requests to experience repeatedly from our 2 1/2-year-old son?

The correct answer will be revealed Monday.  Certain best friends to whom the answer has already been communicated are discouraged from participating in the guessing game.

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. If he’s anything like baby girl (2.5 years of age), it would be something with moving water, a water fountain or some such.

  2. For my son (same age) it’s buttons, so I’m going to guess either an elevator or a button operated door.

  3. Squirrels. Or birds. Outside the museum.

    I’ve taken several oung children to the zoo. My rule of thumb is that if they are more excited by the mundane critters roaming the sidewalks inches from them than the exoric animals behind the glass, they are too young to justify a ticket. This applies to most all children under 5.

    • My original answer involved “feeding the scraps of our hot dog buns to the pigeons” but fixated on “feature of the museum”.

      Surely the pigeons wouldn’t be a feature of the museum…

    • Kazzy, I wish you’d been there to advise me when I shelled out approximately $187 for the Miami Seaquarium, and my son was absolutely taken only with a small dolphin statue out front.

      • Heh… I’ll let your kid play with my dolphin statue for a mere $75…

      • That’s funny, I’ve always thought the Georgia Aquarium was a huge waste of money until we took my daughter, she was mesmerized by the giant seawater tanks and would have stared at it all day if we let her.

        • Aquariums with waterview tanks tend to be better than zoos foryoung kids, becausetheir is more movement and the kids an get closer. Putting their face against the glass as fish swim by inches away is a more “real” experience than watching a lion sleep from 25 feet away.

          • This was more of an orcas-jumping-through-hoops kind of deal. I was hoping for tanks. To a kid whose worldview cannot be altered to accommodate the fact that Lightning McQueen is not played in the movie by a real car, the fact that an orca will jump through a hoop is not such an amazing or unexpected phenomenon.

    • In my eldest daughter’s first two visits to the zoo, her favorite animals were the wolves (“Doggy!”–a word that also happened to be her first word, coming well before mommy and daddy), and the yak, a motionless hump some 150 yards away that she couldn’t take her eyes off of.

  4. First of all, the museum of science in Boston sucks. You need to bring him to the exploratorium in SF. I happen to have a membership there. Or, if yoy insist on Boston area, maybe do the MIT museum… Cool holography exhibit.
    Secondly, the obvious answer to your no-brainer question is guessing how much is in a “mole” of something. Kids, especially preschoolers, just can’t get enough of that stuff. And, thankfully, the boston museum of science has that!

  5. Thanks to everyone for participating in this fun little quiz.

    Judging the winner will be a little bit of a challenge. Nobody hit the nail exactly on the head. But I’m going to have to give the win to Jaybird for his “automatic SOMETHING” guess. Because the correct answer was: the escalator.

    That said, I have to give an honorable mention to Mary for her guess about buttons. Once we allowed Critter to ride up and down the escalator a few times and were able to direct him to other fascinations, he contented himself with mashing pretty much any available buttons. He did not, however, concern himself with anything that resulted therefrom. Merely pushing the buttons was rapture enough.

    Finally, I would have given partial credit to anyone who guessed “picked up the earpieces that piped in the audio information, and pretended to talk on the phone.”

    • Is there a mall nearby?

      (Do people still go to malls?)

      Escalators occurred to me but I dismissed them because I was certain that your little buddy would have ridden them ad nauseum at the mall… (automatic walkways, however, are something that you have to actively look for in specialized places).

      • There are malls nearby, though we don’t go that often. That said, any time there are escalators he points them out with unabashed glee and demands to ride them up and down at least twice.

      • You know what else malls are great for? Indoor play areas. We have many, many months of cool, wet weather here in Oregon. The mall is a decent place to take my only child to interact with other kids while staying dry and warm between November and March.

        “Merely pushing the buttons was rapture enough.”
        Junior does the same thing. He does not care what the button does as long as he gets to push it. He does not wait around to see what comes next. I don’t understand that at all. I mean, if you are going to go through the trouble of pushing a button, don’t you want to know what it does? And what is so great about pushing a button if it does nothing at all?
        Light switches are a different story. He wants to see the light go on and off about 6 times before he will let the light switch go.

  6. the Critter

    My graduate adviser was deeply shocked when I referred to my child–still in foetal stage–that way. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate you using that terminology.

    • I got lots of blowback after I started using that nickname on Facebook, essentially upon his birth. I have, as you can see, persisted regardless.

      And I lifted it directly from “Raising Arizona,” one of my all-time favorite movies. I commend its use to you with my hearty endorsement.

      • I am totally shocked that people care about that sort of thing! Now I’ll never tell anyone what I call my kids!

      • I believe that was probably our source for it, too, as my wife and I love that movie.

        We figured there was too much happiness here for just the two of us, so we figured the next logical step was to have us a critter.

        • I keep waiting for the good Mr. Cahalan to use a quote from Raising Arizona on Friday, I’m pretty sure I’d get a point that time.

      • Sprogs is common parlance in my circles.

        Critters is also common. Of course, I have a friend who posts pictures of his naked-except-for-viking-helmet son attacking his sister with a nerf axe, so…

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