In the year and a half that I’ve been at home with Boone, I’ve just about managed to exhaust all organised activities and venues for babies: breastfeeding support group; baby massage; baby sign language; mum and baby bootcamp; play cafés; rhyme time; play groups at the library and local parish halls. The list is (almost) endless. Today, as a long, rainy afternoon was shaping up ahead of us, I decided to try out the children’s museum. I’d always wondered what a children’s museum is and glutton for punishment that I am, today was the day that I was going to find out!
Half way up the travelator, I realised that I’d left my bank card at home but fortunately, I had €15 cash on me – surely enough for the entry fee and maybe even a coffee and something to eat? Then I saw the price list: €8 per adult and €6 per toddler. I asked the receptionist if Boone was old enough, semi-hoping that he wasn’t but, of course, he’s walking, so, this place was made for him. With just €1 left to my name, there was no coffee in the foreseeable future, nor snack. Our only option was to have fun and starve doing it.
The first exhibit we walked into was cars. Boone heaven! The heavily branded Audi sports car was only a little bit suspicious. I looked around and saw kids-sized everything. A mini supermarket, a diner (complete with kitchen), a doctor’s surgery, a post office. It was very cute and sort of brilliant.
But because I can’t pass by a printed word without reading it, the signs began to get to me. They were condescending in tone, all about healthy eating and what comprises a good meal. Meanwhile, there’s a suggested shopping list for the kids to use in the minimart, with things like “two bottles of cola.” There were also signs telling parents to get the kids to tidy up after themselves. Fair enough, I thought, until I read the next sign which suggested that parents could “assign supervisors and managers” and if the kids do a good job, they should report to a staff member and they’ll receive, dun duh duh dun – a sticker. Whoo.
My issues with foods being branded as “healthy” and kids being rewarded for things they should just do aside, I soon copped the attitude that every other caregiver in the place had copped before me. That is, I’ve just been charged a wad of cash and I don’t even get to see a film, there’s plenty of staff here to tidy up. Of course, I eventually found myself sheepishly putting things back, but still.
Besides my creeping resentment, we enjoyed the exhibits. There was lots of space and it was relatively quiet. Here’s Boone, enjoying the microwave in the diner kitchen.
Then a three-year-old came along and pushed him, telling him to “go away.” Needless to say, I threw the meanie the filthiest of filthies.
An announcement was announced: parachute time on level 2! Why do I always forget that both Boone and I hate parachute time? Before I knew it, there we were, in parachute time, Boone getting increasingly anxious, me having an existential crisis. Why am I doing this (being a stay at home parent)? Doesn’t my hatred of these kid-centric spaces tell me something? Shouldn’t I be some place else? Presumably, work? Thankfully, I was snapped out of this by a very loud “wee!” from Boone. He didn’t have to go, he just wanted to get out of there.
We came home and settled into our respective favourite activities: me, reading a feed of blogs, Boone sitting on his little step, taking the top off and putting it back one of my lipsticks.
Simple is always best.