Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Luke Versus The Tornado

[Spoiler alert:  Luke wins]

     More fun with my grandson Luke this past month, this after my being mystery reader for his pre-school class last month.  More recently I chaperoned Luke when his pre-school class ventured to the Ann Arbor hands-on museum. 

     I have to admit I was a little worried about chaperoning a four-year-old in a bustling crowded venue filled with fun activities to challenge the minds of little ones.  Afterall, I just turned 64 this month.  And it didn’t help that I was informed when I arrived at school that I would be chaperoning an additional four-year-old, Zach.  Twice as much responsibility!

  Before we got off the bus in Ann Arbor, a museum helper came out to give us the scoop:  those of us with a red dot on our name tags need to meet for lunch at 11:30.  Go through the yellow doors on the first floor down to the basement, then to the red room for lunch.  At 12, then find the grey doors on the first floor which leads you to the science labs.

     Uhhhhh, did I mention that I’m 64 now?  I can't even remember my own name some days.  That same museum helper reminded the kids and chaperones that they must keep their eyes on eachother at all times to keep from getting separated.  And no running.  Two more rules for me to remember as my preschool charges forgot both the minute they walked into the building.  Trying to keep one eye on both made me resemble the old comedian Ben Turpin.

     In the first exhibit room there was a miniature tornado on display.  A machine produces a mist which, if undisturbed, will continue to build and gather slowly into a tall but tiny swirling cloud of vapor.  Eventually over the course of a few minutes it becomes a mini-cyclone.

     Problem is that with a museum full of kids, chances are high this swirling vapor will not be able to develop properly.  Kids climb into the funnel cloud display to play in the mist, which pretty much kills any chance for  
the tornado to develop.

     However, a couple teachers and I got a few kids to circle around and just watch.  Luke, standing out with his blond hair, was one of them, standing among older students watching as this mist began to gather at the bottom of the display.

      Soon it began to rise as I reminded Luke to just stand and watch to see what happens.  Meanwhile, I believe  Zach was in another part of the main exhibit room, possibly climbing a ladder to an elevated giant listening disk.  I probably should have been spotting him on the ladder but I’m thinking he should know his limits.  He’s four afterall.

      So the mist began to build finally and then it started swirling upwards. Not much longer to wait now.   It gets to Luke’s height and he’s in awe as it dances and circles in front of him.  The older kids next to him eagerly wait for the distinctive funnel cloud to form.  It’s been a fair wait to get this far.

      Then suddenly Luke thrusts both hands into the swirling vapors and shakes them vigorously around.  The mist immediately dissipates and disappears.  I can read the body language of the older kids.  Their shoulders sag and they frown, broken-hearted that they won’t see the tornado because of the kid I, grandpa, was chaperoning.  Rather than wait another few minutes for the mist to re-form, then turn and leave.  Luke did as well.

      Luke just took the hands-on part of the hands-on museum just a little too literally this time.