Unfortunately, the mosques I know of in Baltimore aren't the kind she means - though she has asked some general questions about Islam, she's five and is going to want to see at least a dome or a minaret or something, and the Islamic centers around here are mostly in rowhouses (though there is a building down on 25th street with crescents at its peaks that probably had some sort of interesting life before it was an apartment building). So I offered to take her down to the Islamic Center in DC, which is a bit more ornate. The folks there were very friendly on the phone (they have an educational mission, but they're also a working mosque, and we've tried to make sure that Ruth understands that, yes, it's great to learn about other cultures and ways of doing things but, no, people don't like being treated as human zoos, so it's always best to ask first) and they suggested that we stop by during the 1PM prayers to have a look around and for Ruth to be able to ask any questions she had.
Ruth had also been interested in seeing Dorothy's slippers at the national museum of American History, so I figured we'd make a day of it. Go down on the train, see the slippers in the morning, then grab some lunch, head over to the mosque, and come home. And it would let me milk my seasonal unemployment without the book I had hanging over my head last summer.
|Ruth enjoyed the train ride. The last time she'd been on a train she was young enough that she didn't remember it.|
When we got to DC, our first stop was the National Museum of American History.
|Ruth tires easily. This was about ten steps out of the metro.|
It took us a while to find Dorothy's Slippers, but we did find them. They... didn't hold Ruth's attention very long. But we looked at a bunch of dresses from Wicked and some other stuff in the American movies collection.
Then Ruth noticed a bunch of folks sitting down in front of the Woolworth's lunch counter from the 1960 sit-in. So, we joined in to watch the presentation/play. Ruth got a kick out of sitting with the "big kids," the high schoolers who were there on a class trip. And she was pretty proud of raising her hand and answering the question about why the sit-in happened ("because they said that white and brown people couldn't eat in the same place and that wasn't right"). And even though she's normally shy, she sang a little bit when we got to the civil rights songs.
We saw a whole bunch more stuff in the museum, but, frankly, Ruth found it 500% more fascinating than I did. I remember there was a very big steam train. And I fielded some questions gently about why there was a whole exhibit about how the first motels in MD made sure that the people staying in them were really travelers.
I agreed that we could have lunch in the museum cafeteria. Don't do that.
Unfortunately, after lunch, I had to tell her that we weren't going to make it to the mosque in time for prayers. So instead, we went to the Natural History museum. Of course, we saw the dinosaurs. Ruth was also really interested in the replica of a neanderthal burial scene. She was explaining to other kids about why the one guy was tied up and in a hole.
The big hit, though, was the butterfly pavillion. It's actually really impressive! I don't know what to say about it, really, so I'll just show you the pictures.
As you can see, Ruth had a ball taking her own pictures, and some of them came out pretty well:
|Ruth was extremely excited to learn that the Atlas moth does all its eating as a caterpillar (er... callerpitter) - she's been telling other kids all about it, apparently. These things are legitimately huge, by the way.|
|I'm pretty sure if you look real close this is the one she took of a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis (my photo didn't come out any better).|
|Fruit left out for the butterflies.|
|"Daddy! I took a picture of words!"|
We stayed at the museum pretty much until everyone was ready to fall asleep. Fortunately, Ruth managed to hold on to the cargo bike until we got home, even though I had to wake her from her nap on the train.