Lake Norman & Mooresville

A parent's thanks

His nightly bathwater had drained, and "mum-may" had finished grooming Calan Hawkins for "night-night," when Daddy asked his nearly-3-year-old son whether there was somewhere he would like to go tomorrow.

Smiling, and without hesitation, screaming at the top of his high-pitched voice, he said, "SCUVREY PACE KIDS."

That, of course, was Cal-speak for Discovery Place KIDS-Huntersville, the interactive children's palace that planned to celebrate its first anniversary Oct. 23.

From this stay-at-home dad - and speaking for countless parents I've encountered during our 30-odd visits - thank you, Discovery Place KIDS.

Thank you for the snapshot memories. Thank you for providing a safe place for families to get out of the house and away from Nick Jr. Thank you for providing a hands-on learning environment for parents to spend quality, enriching time with their children.

I wonder: Who gets more out of Discovery Place KIDS? The children or the parents?

'Safe environment'

A museum member for nearly a year, Monroe resident Kristina Hill navigates the hourlong trek to Huntersville several times a month with her 4-year-old son, Kaden, and 18-month-old daughter, Nayla.

"It is quite a ways to go, but it's worth it," Hill said, taking photos of Kaden playing with trains. "We look forward to it all week long."

A former art teacher, Hill, 31, juggles a mother's schedule with a freelance workload. Discovery Place KIDS, for her and her children, is an escape, a day-long adventure.

"We use it as a springboard of creative play that we take home," Hill said. "I say, 'Remember what we did at Discovery Place KIDS?'

"Nayla is at the age where she is beginning to enjoy all the activities. It's a safe environment to play, and that's nice."

Like more than 100,000 other guests in the past year, Calan Hawkins has experienced creative play and displayed an engaging imagination.

Thank you, Discovery Place KIDS. Thank you, in a small fashion, for fueling a stronger father-son relationship. Thank you, in a small way, for fostering an environment for Calan to learn lessons and values for life.

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