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The recent winter break from school snuck up on me, and the result was some unchoreographed free time. We’ve been experiencing the kind of Georgia winter that makes it hard to spend time outside with small children — relentless misting rain, which occasionally gives way to actual storms.

This weather, combined with unstructured free time, usually means boredom for little people, even on a farm, so my husband and I decided the first day of the break would be good for some indoor entertainment and to get out of the house.

We didn’t want to go too far because long car rides also bring on the dreaded demon of monotony, so we settled on the Tellus Museum in Cartersville, which is enough of a distance from us that it feels like we’re going somewhere but close enough that we can reach it in well under an hour. I felt like the Tellus would be a hit because of its Collins Family My Big Backyard exhibit geared toward children with its walk-in tree and interactive displays on electricity and magnets.

I had forgotten about the life-size dinosaur skeleton replicas in its fossil gallery, but when we caught sight of a brontosaurus figure, I thought it would absolutely captivate my young son who is going through a dinosaur phase right now. When I say “a phase,” I mean he actually pretends to be one of these creatures 23 hours a day. I often have to remind him to use his words instead of expressing his emotions through roaring at various volumes. There is a trail of little plastic dinosaurs dotting our house at all times, and they “eat” beside him at dinner and accompany him everywhere, including the restroom.

If figurines, pictures and TV shows about dinosaurs are this interesting to him, I reasoned, the Tellus replicas would not soon be forgotten.

As we entered the museum’s main hall, we had a great view of the brontosaurus skeleton. It soared above us, and the details were stunning. We could see its entire spine curved like a whip from massive neck to pointed tail.

“What’s that??” I asked my son.

“A skeleton” was his lukewarm response.

“Yes, but what kind?” I pressed in an encouraging tone.

“Ah. I forgot,” he replied as he trundled past the massive exhibit leaving his shocked parents in his wake.

Such is the mercurial nature of a toddler.

I thought he might have been overwhelmed by the sight of a skeleton so large — maybe he couldn’t take it in because it was so unexpectedly huge, I reasoned. He did warm up as we toured the rest of the exhibit, but his reactions were sort of matter of fact. He seemed to think the Tyrannosaurus rex, triceratops and prehistoric shark replicas were neat but just part of the scenery. In other words, he wasn’t wowed.

And there’s no disrespect intended there toward the Tellus’ carefully presented exhibit. The adults in our group were impressed. I myself was particularly captivated by the Appalachiosaurus, a bipedal predator that populated the Southeastern portion of what is now the United States. To a novice eye, it seemed to have a lot of similarities to its cousin, the massive T. rex, although I learned the two are distinct from each other because, among other things, of the Appalachiosaurus’ considerably smaller size. Unfortunately, my knowledge gathering process was reduced to quickly scanning each skeleton’s plaque as I kept an eye on a small person whose only comments were “Huh, cool,” and “Watch this, Mama” as he pinged back and forth between dinosaurs, taking in an entire exhibit in 3 minutes and 35 seconds.

Overall, everyone in our party ended up having a good time learning about dinosaurs and minerals and enjoying a day inside. We are still chuckling about my son’s underwhelmed reaction to the dinosaur skeletons, and we have plans to have another look at the exhibit when he’s old enough to process the wonder of the life-sized replicas. I certainly recommend the Tellus if you find yourself in the Cartersville area with children or adults, although if you have a toddler in your midst, don’t expect any wide-eyed wonder.

Elizabeth Crumbly is a newspaper veteran and freelance writer. She lives in rural Northwest Georgia where she teaches riding lessons, writes and raises her family. She is a former editor of The Catoosa County News. You can correspond with her at www.collective-ink.com.

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