Sunday, May 22, 2016

Children's Museums

Here are some little known facts about children's museums.

  • In 2007 more than 30 million children and families visited children's museums.
  • Seventy percent provide school outreach.
  • In 1985 there were 38 children's museums in the U.S.  By now there are almost 250 children's museums with 70 more being planned.
  • Indianapolis, IN has the largest children's museum with 433,000 square feet.
  • The oldest children's museum is in Brooklyn which opened in 1899
  • At any given moment about 93% of parents are bored out of their minds at a children's museum.
OK...I'll admit that last one has some questionable research associated with it.  It came from the research firm known as "Michael's Bored Brain."

See, today I spent the day at the science museum.  And was I bored?  Yes.  Here is what I did.

  • We saw a Thomas the Train 4D movie that was fun for about three minutes until my kids got scared because the train lost control and sped into a dark tunnel.  They didn't like that.  And then the 17 droplets of water that were sprayed at us when the train splashed into a puddle was not appreciated by four year olds who, I might add, love splashing in the bathtub.
  • We saw a 20-something employee (who I'm guessing was someone who recently spent eighty grand on a theater degree at a Boston college) read a book about a bunny and teach us six words in Spanish.  After about seven minutes the audience of kids got restless and bored and half of them left before the actual bunny was taken out.  Most people were gone by the time the "Puppet Time" part of the presentation came which consisted of the unemployed actor allowing the children to pet or high five a rabbit puppet on his hand.
  • Derek and I watched the boys touch almost every button that they could find.  It didn't matter that they had no idea what the exhibit was for.  It was just a button so it MUST. BE. PUSHED.
  • I spend a lot of mental energy wondering what child has sneezed, licked or coughed on every button and figuring out how to make my schedule for the week work out if my kids get sick from the museum.
  • We saw frogs.  That was actually interesting.  I didn't realize quite how varied frogs can be.  However I spent the entire time at the exhibit holding a 35 lb. child.
  • The kids complained they were hungry.  Every hour.
  • We bought lunch at the museum.  It was surprisingly not "break-the-bank" expensive. 
  • We went to the Discovery Center which was basically the play area for young kids.  It reminded me of every other play center we have been to.  The boys liked the area with air sucking balls into tubes.  My plan to leave by noon-ish didn't work.  Somehow we didn't leave until 2:30 which led Aaron to fall asleep on the train ride home so I had to carry him the three quarters of a mile from the train station to home.
Luckily we got free tickets to the museum but for most families this fun filled day would be theirs for the low, low cost of only $100!!!

I know museums are educational.  I get that they expose kids to concepts and fields of interest.  I hope that one day I'll be more excited by them.  But for now it's comforting to know that when I Google "why I hate children's museums" I see I'm in great company.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Let The Overscheduling Begin!

It has been almost two months since my last post.  I am constantly saying to myself, "I should write a blog about that!" and ten seconds later I have forgotten what was so important because the next fight over a train is happening or I have to sweep the floor for the 10th time today or there is a tushie that needs wiping.  Life with two four year olds is definitely busy...especially when you couple that with the 20ish hours of work I've been doing and the show I was in that just closed.  The last few months have been good, though.  I'm back to interpreting.  I did a great show.  I am lucky Derek has been so supportive of my crazy schedule.  I have some summer plans to look forward to.  All is well even if I feel like I never have a minute of rest.

Tonight (it's after 10 p.m.) I decided it was time to blog again because today was the first day of gymnastics class.  I guess technically this isn't the first class the boys have taken.  We used to do music class when they were babies.  This class, however, is their first after school activity.  And it's not one of those "mommy and me" classes where the parent participates.  The boys are off on their own jumping, hanging, swinging and tumbling with me watching from the sidelines.  I am thrilled to watch them tackle new challenges and develop new skills.  It's exciting.  I was a gymnast for about six years when I was younger so there is definitely a little kvelling going on as I watch them.

Let's be honest, though, about why they are in gymnastics.  I searched and searched for a class they could take.  As summer approaches I worried about having no structured activity at all so I wanted to get them into something.  The art school down the street doesn't take kids until they are five.  Ditto with the drama program.  Piano lessons for two kids was going to be expensive and I'm not quite sure they would have the focus for piano just yet.  Sports camps in the summer are often one week long and I was looking for a weekly class.  I don't feel like I could handle two kids in the pool for daddy/child swim lessons.  The other gym I wanted to go to had classes that conflicted with school or ended at 5 p.m. and I didn't want to deal with rush hour traffic.  So off to the suburbs for gymnastics it would have to be!

I do like the class and the teachers are good too.  I am extremely satisfied with the program and the boys are having fun.  It gives Aaron a way to burn off some energy and it gives Jeff some practice balancing so maybe he won't trip over his own feet as much. 

Nowadays we read that martial arts are good for learning discipline.  A foreign language should be taught young.  Sports teams teach teamwork.  Music lessons help with brain development.  And if your kid hasn't started young he or she will never be a prima ballerina or a major league baseball player.  It's tough to raise a kid these days when there is pressure to give them all the advantages you can (or can't really) afford.

A lot of people I know already have their kids in swimming lessons, horseback riding classes, t-ball leagues, ballet class and more.  I know over the next few years I will become a full time chauffer  when the school bell rings at the end of the day.  However, after school activities will have to be picked based on school schedules, work schedules, traffic patterns and locations, interests, costs and more.  Life will become one big game of Tetris.

I just hope I remember to not give in to the pressure of scheduling something for every minute of the day.  I have big dreams for my kids.  I want them to play piano (I need someone to help me practice my audition songs), become fluent in Spanish (like I never did), be able to dance (it was hard to take my first dance class at 18), and be great scientists (who will discover a way to give energy to parents of twins).  But I also want them to be kids.  Sometimes playing with trains and making chocolate chip cookies is enough.