Mountain View Mommy: Sand, Trucks and Testosterone

February 23, 2007

Adventure Week: Part 4 – Discovery Museum

Filed under: Parenthood — by mvmommy @ 3:03 am

Today’s adventure was more than an adventure. It was a test of sheer will & determination.

  1. blog19.jpgFirst, it definitely rained. And not a little – a lot. So I decided to cancel the trip to Happy Hollow (an outdoor playland for kids under 5), and instead go to the Children’s Discovery Museum in San Jose.
  2. Unfortunately, I think every other mother on the west coast decided to do the same thing; so we were crammed in like sardines in a tin can. I literally was sweating from every pore of my body trying to dodge 3 buses full of kids that arrived when we did… and every toddler born from 2002 on.
  3. And if that wasn’t enough, it seemed like every child brought one or even two adults to supervise them. Sounds normal… but come on… where were the mothers who had multiple children to look after? Why did it seem like I was the only one running around chasing my children?
  4. The sheer chaos of it all seemed to be enhanced by my self-imposed mothering rules:
    * don’t put my children on leashes
    * if they (and those around them) are safe, allow them to explore at will – no matter how dirty they get
    These seem like reasonable rules until they are put into practice in an environment like today’s.

Let me give you a 5 minute snapshot of today’s adventure from my perspective, while considering the above factors:

Andrew has gone running ahead to play in the firetruck – which is right in front of me. I can still see him, so I bend over to take Justin out of theblog66.jpg stroller. I plop Justin on the ground (across from the firetruck) to watch the balls that float. At this point, Andrew jumps out of the firetruck and goes to see the Stage Coach, which is around a corner. I then shove Justin under one arm like a football, and push the stroller with the other hand…. while trying to ram about 50 people to get around the corner to find out where Andrew went. After 1 minute of scanning the crowd, I spot him jumping out of the Stage Coach and running towards the water play area. Justin at this point is wailing because he wants to get down too, and he is pissed blog210.jpgbecause he wanted to play with those balls some more. So I put Justin in the water play area, which also has balls… and put on his rain jacket (because all the protective smocks are taken)… and let him play there while going over to Andrew to convince him to stay in the baby area for 10 minutes with us. At this point, I can see both children, but I can only be next to one since they are 10 feet apart. Justin stumbles and falls… when he doesn’t see me within arms reach he starts screaming as if he broke a limb. I forget about Andrew and leap over the chained fence to get to my child. The other parents are glaring at me as if I had just ditched my kid on purpose. As I grab Justin off the floor … Andrew decides to almost dive into the water to play with the balls … so I have to leap back over the railing and rescue him (with Justin under my arm again like a football). That was literally 5 minutes. We were there for 2 hours. You do the math.

The boys definitely had fun… but I am not sure that I can say it was ‘fun’ for me too. I was getting pretty tired of avoiding the glaring eyes of many judgemental parents who only had one child to look after. Yes I could practically HEAR them saying – ‘did you see that horrible mother? did you see how she let her child fall down? where was she? I would never have let my child get so wet, they are going to be sick! And what about that other boy, did you see him splashing in the water? My little Johnny would never have behaved like that!’

However, from the boys perspective … a much more positive perspective… it was a great time. So let’s go with that version instead.

Upon arriving, Andrew immediately got to know the doorman. This was a lucky break for us, because Doorman Guy kept Andrew inside about 3 times when he was blog2a1.jpgtrying to escape. Thanks Doorman Guy! When he wasn’t harassing the doorman, Andrew was often driving the ambulance, firetruck or stage coach. After canvassing the vehicles, we washed some clothes with an old fashioned washboard… and dried them with a press. We went back to the floating balls for a little bit – since Justin didn’t get the full amount of time that he wanted there. And both kids had a good time trying to figure out how they were floating. We spent some time pushing red plastic pegs through a peg board to see them come out the other side. At one point, Andrew would push them from the back… and Justin would push them from the front… and they both found it hilarious the way the pegs just kept springing back and forth. We even did a little digging with some sand to see how it would flow out of funnels and tubes.

blog45.jpgLast but definitely not least – we spent time in the infamous water area. Every time we go to the Discovery Museum, I bring a change of clothes, and we put this exhibit last on our to-do list. This time, we hit it first… which quite exciting & quite cold. Who knew we would be making it rain indoors as well as outdoors. As mentioned before, there were so many kids that there weren’t enough water-proof smocks to go around. So instead I just zipped up their raincoats and let them have at it. Justin went straight towards the three shooting fountains and started sticking his hands in to try to catch them. And when he couldn’t do that – he just stuck his face straight in the middle of them. Then he would laugh hysterically. Yes, he was definitely the most wet child that I saw there. But he blog75.jpgwas having a great time and no one was getting spashed… so I figured what the heck. Andrew on the other hand went straight to the water funnel… and watched the balls get sucked into it. After a while he stopped watching and started ‘participating’ by trying to see if the funnel would suck his arms down instead of the ball. He might as well have gone swimming in the tube of water because he was soaked from his fingers to his waist – thus taking Justin’s status as the child who was the most wet. blog81.jpgBut he was exploring & trying to learn… so I didn’t stop him unless he was blocking some other child from having fun. Yes, I would say both my boys were not behaving in the ‘norm’. But I have never claimed my kids were normal. You can tell from Andrew’s face in the picture above that he is trying to come up with some new way to play with the funnel other than by just following the rules – he was definitely up to harmless mischief. So I steered him to the paddle wheels instead. These had him bent over checking them out as he would watch them spin whenever water would touch it.. and even Justin went over to see what all the excitement was about. Everyone knows that he won’t be left out!

In the end, the boys had a great time – but they didn’t complain when I took them home either. I think they had enough of the crowds and the chaos. Just like their mommy. As we drove home, we talked about all the fun things we did. Andrew of course talked about the ambulance and firetruck … and Justin just kept saying Tuck, tuck tuck… backing up whatever his brother was saying.

As we made the final turn towards home Andrew yelled “yeah we’re home! I love my home!” I think that sums up Adventure Day #4. Tomorrow will be a mandatory hiatus from out-of-home adventures. I think we could all use the break.

1 Comment »

  1. I always feel like I’m the only one with a skewed parent to child ratio, chasing my kids all around. We fortunately stuck to the Palo Alto Junior Museum, not very big but still lots of people. I ended up with one sobbing in a box meant for golf balls while the other was attempting a dinosaur fight with a little girl. This is why I like to go places with my friend who has 4 kids.

    Comment by Nicole — February 26, 2007 @ 4:39 pm |Reply

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