Morning at the Museum

School is in.  I have three children at home with me during the day.  The oldest of the three, my four year old son, was registered for preschool this year but my friend who teaches it had to make a career change unexpectedly.

I did a bit of research on other options but didn’t find the right fit and therefore decided to do preschool at home this year.  I hope it will be a good experience for my son and I, as well as the two littlest girls.

August featured $2 Tuesdays at Thanksgiving Point, home to the largest dinosaur museum in the world.  That brought the total cost to $4 instead of $20.  What an opportunity!  I could start off our preschool experience with a field trip to see the dinosaurs.I thought to myself, “Great!  I’ll go on the last Tuesday of the month.  School will be back in so it should be slow.”

Yep.  That’s how I planned it.

Me and eight hundred other mothers of preschoolers, along with another hundred mothers who homeschool.  (Great minds think alike?)

When we drove in at 10:05, the line stretched out the building, across the front of the museum, around the corner and down the sidewalk.

I’ll admit I was tempted to turn around and go home.  But I had talked it up, my little ones were counting on it, and I felt they were all well-rested so I decided to go anyway.

I’m glad I did.  While in line, I ran into a dear old friend, Beth.  It was fun to enjoy parts of the museum with her, to see her children, and to spend a few minutes catching up.  That unexpected reunion was priceless.

As we walked through the museum turned maze (thanks to a million strollers) I enjoyed looking at the exhibits and watching my children point to things that they liked.

My four year old mostly wanted me to take pictures of the teeth.

The sheer size of the supersaurus is amazing.

Our last stop was in a hands-on play room.  Large cement troughs wind around the room full of sand, a bit of water and a few toy dinosaurs and trees.  Children stand at the edges and play in the sand.  Under one small section of the play area is a hole that smaller children can climb through in order to stand on a raised floor in the center, allowing them to play as well.  It took quite a while for it to clear out enough for my little guy to have a chance to really play in the sand, but once he did, he loved it.  I sat and talked with my friend until they were ready to move on and my little girls were ready to start crying.

Then, like I’d seen dozens of other moms do in the past 20 minutes, and like I myself have done thousands of times before, I gave my son a 5 minute warning that it was time to go.  Five minutes later the baby was screaming and I announced that it was time to leave.  Ten seconds after that my son started crying.  Not crying, really, but wailing.  Wailing at the top of his lungs.  He didn’t want to leave.  He didn’t want to surrender the dinosaurs.  He wanted to stay right there.

Keep in mind here that there is a 3 foot wide cement trough between me and him, full of sand and water, and it’s as high as my waist.  There he stood, in the center of the little kid area, wailing.

I stood on the edge, being jostled by a fresh wave of parents trying to negotiate a small space, trying to stay close enough to watch the stroller with my screaming baby in it, and close enough to the four year old that he could see I was serious.  Other parents started looking at him like they wondered where his mother was.  I watched them.  I watched him.  I watched the babies in the stroller.  I was trying to get his attention, but the noise in the room was like the echo in a gym full of yelling people.  No one could hear me but myself.  And I thought, “THIS is why I avoid crowded places.”

And so, after hundreds of other kids had come and gone peacefully, washing their hands and moving on after their 5 minute warnings, I was the mother who had the honor of getting down on her hands and knees to crawl through the 24 inch high opening under the trough to grab her son’s ankle and pull him out.  I was the mother who had the honor of trying to restrain a screaming, kicking boy (one arm pinning his arms to his chest, the other arm holding his legs at the knees) while trying to also push a double stroller holding two little girls (who had just been lulled to sleep by the noise) through a maze of other people and strollers who wondered why I wasn’t getting out faster but didn’t bother to move slightly to one side or the other so I could do just that.  (And yes, that was a run-on sentence.)

And I kept saying to myself,  “It’s just a moment.  A very public, very embarrassing, moment, but a moment nonetheless.”  I realized that I wasn’t the slightest bit upset or ruffled or frustrated.  It was what it was.  He was making his choice, I was making mine.  I even had the presence of mind to take a picture.

Girls:

Boy:

I happened to glance up as we exited the building, and saw three vultures circling overhead.  Turkey vultures, to be exact.  (Believe me, I know what they look like.)  Hmmm, I thought.  Vultures circling over a dinosaur museum, vultures circling over a lady hauling two sleeping children and one screaming boy out of a dinosaur museum.  I couldn’t help but find it humorous.

As I carried him screaming through the parking lot I had to chuckle at the comedy of our appearance.  And because I can’t resist, here they are one more time.

Girls:

Boy:

So we came home.  And I suddenly felt very, very tired.  Not so much from his outburst but from 2.5 hours in a museum that was as loud as a crowded gymnasium.  Talk about over-stimulation.

I should have cleaned my kitchen, but instead I wrote this post.

While my four year old boy played like an angel with his two year old sister.  Like I said, it was only a moment.

Wish me luck on future preschool field trips.

Jennifer

One comment

  • Janelle

    I seriously LOVE the way you retell an experience/story. I realize it wasn’t something to laugh at the very moment you are going through it but I love how you tell life how it is and how much comfort that gives to all of us mothers who deal with tantrums/meltdowns and can relate! Thank you for being who you are. I have always been amazed at you’re gift of being able to say things so well. I love reading you’re blog and the insightful things you share with me (and everyone else who reads)on a daily basis. I hope school and everything else is going well for you. Take care.

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