Friday morning we packed up and headed to Sea World. Nearly every night since we confirmed our trip to Texas three months ago, Robby has curled up into my lap before bed time and said, "Momom, let's talk about Sea World." I would fire up my laptop and we would spend about twenty minutes looking at their website and Sea World YouTube videos. He was raring to go and began to giggle when we told him that we were finally going to Sea World that morning.
I have to admit that my little boy loves animals. He took a map at the entrance and practically ran to the dolphin exhibit. After working with his Daddy to pet the dolphins, we headed to the sting ray and shark exhibit. Lo and behold, we got to the tank in time for a show!
Robby was so cute sitting on the floor in front of the giant aquarium, attentively absorbing everything the speaker was saying. He never squirmed and didn't get up to walk around like many of the other kids. In that moment he looked so grown up, I found myself feeling both pride and sadness simultaneously.
After visiting the sharks and rays, we headed over to the Sea Lion exhibit. My Dad surprised Robby and bought a tray of sea lion food so that he could feed them. I found it somewhat ironic when my Dad handed Robby a tray of dead fish. After all, he was the person responsible for buying Robby his fish aquarium. Because just about every resident that has swum in its waters has met an untimely death, I figured that it was easier to just give Robby his fish already belly side up and save us some trouble!
Robby was delighted to feed the sea lions. After throwing his first fish into the waiting mouth, he looked at me and squealed, "I've never fed a sea lion before in my whole entire five year life." He then proceeded to toss another fish to the crowd of sea lions below.
Yet again I found myself feeling a sense of maternal pride. Many of the other visitors were teasing the sea lions with the fish, dangling the food above them without releasing it. The animals were yelping and begging to be fed, yet the tourists continued to taunt them. Robby remarked that he felt the people were being mean, and that it "wasn't nice" not to give the fish to the sea lions. He never made them beg and simply enjoyed watching them eat. I think that this small observation speaks to his sensitivity and compassion!
Robby, it turns out, wasn't the only person impressed by the sea lion exhibit. My Dad considers himself fortunate enough to have witnessed what apparently was an awesome sight. He saw a sea lion poop in the water while swimming. Now Robby and my Dad have deep conversations about, you guessed it, poop!
My favorite part of the day was, without doubt, the Shamu killer whale show. While I was impressed with the tricks performed by the giant animals, I enjoyed watching Robby's reaction much more than watching the whales. His unbridled enthusiasm and pure delight came shining through his eyes and expressions as he watched the show.
When the show started, the whale swam underwater and jumped, performing a back flip in the center of the pool. Robby spontaneously screamed, "Oh my gosh, this is the most amazing thing ever. I'm so happy!" I will never forget the pure joy in his voice and the astonishment in his eyes. That single moment was worth the price of admission.
That night Robby giggled himself to sleep. He woke up two times in the middle of the night, once to remind me that he fed a sea lion and the second time to talk about the Shamu show. I worried that the combination of the heat and Robby's ultra high expectations might cause Sea World to fall short. I am thrilled that was not the case. After months of anticipation, and despite the 110 degree temperatures, we had a wonderful Sea World adventure!