How-to Cope: What You Learn on a Trip to the Museum
Welcome. Thank you for joining us. A few years ago I decided I needed a day off. A day to clear my head of the silliness of Monday through Friday. So I took one. As it turns out our oldest had the day off, too. An administration day at school, whatever that is.
We decided to go meet some dinosaurs. What could be better for clearing the mind than seeing things, real things, that are impossible to believe? So we agreed that we’d visit the Natural History Museum in New York City. Together we planned. We’d wake up early, get dressed warmly in layers (winter cold; museum hot), and be ready for an adventure. Two kids on an adventure—one 35 and one 5—what could be better? The day, it turns out.
We live in a lovely little coastal town in New Jersey. Taking the boat to New York City is a reliable and convenient commute. Since many good adventures involve water travel, we decided that boat would be the best way to approach the dinosaurs. Boat to subway to museum to dinosaurs to museum to subway to boat. Easy Peasy. And so it was.
We boarded the ferry and settled into seats with a view on the enclosed top deck. I was focused almost entirely on the dinosaurs. I talked about them. I shared when I’d seen my first one. I shared what I knew about them. My oldest focused on everything else that was in plain sight. She saw the boat, its seats, its uniqueness, its color, its shape, its…its everything. We talked about the boat and then the subway and then the museum and finally the dinosaurs.
By the time we saw the dinosaurs I was amazed—but not by them. By my oldest. She had been learning non-stop for more than three hours. I was exhausted and she was just settling in for what I had expected to be the amazing part of the visit. We stood together, peeling off outer layers in the museum’s heat, staring at giant brown skeletons that offered little to no context of what they were for, other than to be stared at. Hundreds of people we did not know milled around us as we stared. My oldest nodded, asked some questions, and then asked, “So, when can we go on the boat again?” Priceless. I smiled.
We wandered through an exhibit with whales, another with stuffed animal specimens, another with Mayan art. We stayed with the Mayan art for a long while. My oldest studied in some detail pots, bowls, masks, clothes, and everything else Mayan that was displayed. Sometimes it was clear that she was curious. Sometimes it was clear that she thought she was supposed to be curious.
Hunger finally dragged us away and toward the boat. We munched on M&Ms and wrap sandwiches as we journeyed from museum to subway to boat. As we boarded the boat for a second time, eyelids were heavy. Questions came less quickly but came nonetheless. My oldest slept on the way home.
We had enjoyed a day together. A day of learning about what we’d intended to learn and about what was in plain sight. I have used this day often as a reminder. There is an awful lot to share that is in plain sight, and which our little ones find as interesting as the special moments we try to craft when there is a little extra time. I learned a lot from our trip to the museum, and I still do.
This week we took another trip to another museum. It, too, was quite the experience. I will share more about it another time.
Speak to you soon,