Back in 4th Grade, her class did an annual project that they call “wax museum”. In the project, each student chooses a human subject from any period of time and researches their life. It can be a politician, an athlete, a scientist, a musician – what they did for a living, though usually important to their story, was just one layer of the research. On “wax museum” day, each student would come to school dressed like their subject with a short presentation prepared about their life. When a parent or other student would come by and “push the button”, the child would give their spiel in first person, listing facts and important moments from their subject’s life. It was during that project last year that CJ first discovered Dr. Jane Goodall.
If your first reaction to seeing the name Jane Goodall is “oh the monkey lady”, my daughter will quickly correct you with a firm “Ummmm they were Chimpanzees!!!” And please, if you know what’s good for you, don’t say, “Yeah, I know… the Gorillas In The Mist lady”. That was Dian Fossey. For the year since the project, the kid has not only become well-versed in all things Goodall, she’s kind of a Chimp Snob.
A few months ago while taking care of some on-campus business where she is currently advancing her degree, The Wife came across an advertisement for an up-coming lecture with Dr Goodall. It was a no-brainer that we would do everything we could to get our like monkey (They were Chimps!) in the audience that night. With tickets in hand, she let her know what they would be doing and I swear the reaction was as good as those “we’re going to Disney” videos on YouTube.
For weeks it’s been building.
“I can’t believe I get to see my idol! I can’t believe I get to go to college and see Jane Goodall!”
Not the typical daily response you’d expect from an 11-year-old. The extent of their interest and attention span seems to be pointed one (different) direction.
“I’m so excited! Thank you so much, Mom! This is amazing!”
As the day drew closer, the number of “Thank You’s” and proclamations of excitement began to multiply exponentially.
Last night was finally the night.
When she walked in the door after school, The Wife was already home after taking a half day at work for the special event. CJ threw her arms around her and squeezed her as tight as can be.
“I’m so excited that we’re doing this, Mom!”
They chatted as they got dressed for their special night. I could hear them giggling throughout the house.
“I can’t believe I’m going to college tonight!”
They left extra early and had dinner together. They laughed and chatted throughout the meal.
“Wow, Mom, it’s really cool that you go to this school. Maybe this is where I can go to college? I mean, I could live here but still be close enough to see you all the time.”
They strolled all over campus taking in all that it had to offer. Though I wasn’t there, I could see how big the smiles were just by the way they retold it. They went to the bookstore to check out the university sweatshirts that she had her eye on – just like the one Mom sports on the weekends.
The speech itself was kind of a blur. From the second CJ hit the door last night, the facts were coming at about a mile a minute.
“Did you know Jane Goodall is a Vegetarian?”
“Did you know Jane Goodall speaks 300 times a year?”
“Wanna hear a sad Chimp story?”
After the speech itself, there was a brief meet and greet for pictures and autographs. They followed the instructions and got in line, but some confusion with directions lead to a moment where it looked like they might miss the opportunity.
“Dad! Mom was so awesome! They were trying to send us to the back of this huge line, but she talked to the people and they let us stay and go right away. She was great.”
“Jane Goodall?” I asked.
As we were tucking her in, I just kind of stood back and watched with a smile. She thanked her Mom one more time with the biggest hug I’d seen in years.
After the kids were asleep, The Wife shared a story from the end of the night. As they left the arena, they stopped in the parking lot. My daughter wrapped her arms around my wife’s waist and with a giant squeeze told her, “Thank you so much, Mom! This was so much fun. I can’t believe I got to spend the evening with my idol!”
Yep… and she got to see Jane Goodall too.