Last week I met my mother-in-law in Manhattan to take the girls to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So much potential for learning at a major cultural institution, right?
Yeeeeeah, that sounds nice and all and while it is true, I learned way more in the Life Lessons department than I soaked up in the art history department. For instance…
1. Plans are stupid.
Duh. I mean, I should have known this. Kids + plans = a regular laugh riot.
Before we left, I printed out the Met’s Kids Picks guide and had Samantha look through it a little and circle things on the map that looked cool. My thought was that a loose plan would be helpful while we’re wandering around trying to figure out what to do next. That sounds lovely, but it didn’t exactly work out that way.
We headed to the Egyptian area first because Sam thought the temple sounded cool. I figured we’d be there very briefly because mummies and Samantha aren’t really things that seem to go together. I figured the girls would be all gung ho about the paintings since they probably learned about some of them in their art classes.
I was wrong. We spent a huge chunk of our time exploring ancient Egypt. Sam tried to decipher hieroglyphics, Ellie tried to climb ancient temples (more on that in a second), and we all drooled at the gorgeous vessels and jewelry.
Paintings? Those are boring. Once we got through Egypt, the girls wanted to do the Frank Lloyd Wright house and ran up and down the stairs oohing and aahing at old furniture—the last thing I thought they’d be into.
2. Guards don’t like strollers, but they’re cool with kids climbing into exhibits.
I brought an umbrella stroller with us to trap Ellie when she needed to be trapped and give her a resting spot when she needed rest. She hopped out before we climbed the steps to the Temple of Dendur and I carried it up behind her.
When we got to the top, Ellie immediately climbed under the little piece of wire meant to keep people out of the exhibit. With visions of her scaling the walls of an ancient temple and creating a domino effect of destruction, I abandoned the stroller and ran after her.
When a guard yelled out, it was not because there was a child’s chocolate-covered fingers all over ancient relics. Oh no. It was the stroller he found unacceptable. It needed to remain at the bottom of the steps. Lesson learned, sir.
3. 50 percent of my children are ok with nudity.
When you go to an art museum, you’ve got to expect some nudity, right? Ladies in repose with fabric casually draped over one breast. Guys standing as though they’re about to conquer something while their man bits sway in the breeze. I challenge you to name me an art museum that doesn’t include either of these things.
Anyway, in the back of my head I was wondering how this would play out. I half expected Ellie to make an embarrassing comment relating a piece of art’s breasts to what she refers to as my “fingies” (that’s thingies for any of you who aren’t well versed in Preschooler).
Surprisingly, their comments were minimal. We were looking at a bunch of Egyptian statues and talking to Sam about how archaeologists had pieced them together when she looked at one of the naked male statues and said “that’s inappropriate,” her nose turned up ever-so slightly.
Ellie thought nothing of it. She stood at the feet of Cleopatra (who was experiencing a bit of a nip slip) and stroked one of her toes saying “Dis one’s my favewite.” Not a word about her being naked. She was more concerned with the fact that I didn’t want her petting the statue than anything else.
4. Preschoolers love everything. Except when they don’t.
This trip made me realize that entertaining Ellie isn’t really something I need to worry about. No matter where we were, she found something at her level that she was fascinated by. There was the crocodile in the moat outside of the Temple of Dendur. There were all of the coins to “count” inside the moat. There were wire ropes to walk along and really good acoustics for echoes. And then there were the fish in the Zen garden. I’m pretty sure they were her favorite part of the entire trip.
She was a happy little monkey. Until she wasn’t. And that’s when my rule of Get the Hell Out of Dodge As Soon As Meltdown Mode Starts proved itself truer than ever.
5. If it sparkles, they will come.
Lastly, I learned that my daughters are secret homing devices for anything that sparkles. We were wandering around, hunting for the zen garden when the girls rounded a corner and stopped in their tracks, their mouth and eyes opened wide. I couldn’t imagine what could possibly cause such a reaction, but I should’ve known it involved sparkles.
I came up behind them and saw that they were ogling a deer covered in crystals (we just learned now that it was an actual taxidermied deer covered in them). Obviously, we had to take a photo.
So, yeah. While you might expect a whole lot of cultural enrichment after visiting one of the most famous museums in the world, I left with some important life lessons instead. And those are more useful anyway, right?