Friday, April 06, 2012

An afternoon at the museum

Since the kids had the day off from school (do kids have the day off from school everywhere for Good Friday? Or is that just a thing around here?) I decided to take them to the Minnesota Science Museum. By myself.  Now that might not seem like a big deal to you but I really hate driving in any traffic worse than what I see on the main street of my very small town. But figured it would be ok since I have GPS on my phone so I decided we would brave it and make the hour and a half drive.

All was going well until right as I was preparing to exit the highway into the heart of Minneapolis and my GPS cut out.  Not like a little blip in service but like it totally shut off.  And I couldn't get it back on. And Joseph started to freak out in the backseat. And a car drove into my lane and came within inches of hitting us.  That was not the best part of the day. By some miracle I managed to get myself to the museum without GPS directing me.

I drove around trying to figure out where in the heck to park.  A warning - if you visit the museum know that it is surrounded by giant parking lots, all of them blocked with signs saying "Lot closed - use lower lot". And none of the signs tell you where this mythical lower lot is so you're just forced to circle around and around while your son hyperventilates and your daughter whines "I don't like this! Let's just go to the zoo!"  You might be driven to make a left turn directly onto a very narrow street marked "Exit only!" and "Restricted!" and "Wrong way!".  This will not serve to calm your children down.

But somehow I got out of the danger zone and I managed to find the stupid freaking lower lot.  And here's something funny!  The lower lot was closed! Haha! Despite the fact that the museum had only been open for about an hour the entire parking lot was full. I was going to try to turn around the find another spot but more and more cars kept pulling up right behind me and I couldn't back out of the lane to get into the ramp.  Then, a miracle!  A car came out and I was allowed to go in.  And we got a great spot. In fact there were at least a dozen spots that we saw so there goes the "full" theory.

Let me tell you about how things went at the museum with just pregnant, waddling me and my two maniac children.  It went freaking awesome. Of all the kids my kids are the best kids.  My number one pet peeve with museums is parents who let their kids run wild and dash from exhibit to exhibit mashing on random buttons without every figuring out how anything works.  Not my kids!  They read instructions.  They followed steps.  They asked questions and they figured things out and they worked together and I damn near cried watching it.

There was one exhibit where you could build little contraptions and put them in a chute that was blasting air straight up.  Then you could see if your contraption would fly or not.  The kids watched a bunch of 10-14 year old boys trying out their contraptions for a little bit.  Joseph got to work carefully building what he described to me as a hang glider.  Elle whispered to me "Those boys are making things too heavy." Then she made a little thing that looked like a bird, elbowed her way through the crowd of boys and put her contraption in the tunnel.  And I am not lying when I say her little bird thing flew right up to the top of the tube and then right out the top. It fluttered down and she caught it in her outstretched hand while the crowd of boys around her grumbled about how none of theirs would go to the top and why did hers? I got all bursty in my chest and then I got even MORE bursty when Joseph brought his contraption to the tube and put it in.  It was big and heavy but he had built it so well that it lifted right up, flew out of the tube, hit the ceiling and landed on the floor right in front of Joseph.  I might have strutted a little bit and said "Yeah! Those are MY babies! Suck it other parents!". Ok, there were no other parents around.  But I did strut.

We also visited a pirate exhibit. Joseph was especially fascinated by the eight year old pirate we learned about. He wondered what would make a little boy want to be a pirate.  He said maybe the boy had Aspergers.  A short pause and then "I think I have Arrrrspergers. It's a disorder that makes me want to be a pirate." Then we all laughed because Joseph is punny.

As we were just about to leave the museum we stopped at an exhibit where you could build a machine that worked like an big gear .... thingy ... that could draw patterns on paper.  As Elle and I set it up a boy who was maybe 14 or 15 came right up by and started to move things around.  I was about to do my "back off" stance that I had perfected during the day but something about this boy struck me.  He didn't say anything to us and he was standing way too close to us but I could tell he was just trying to help.  Once we got the machine set up he took a step back and just stood there and waited till we were done.  He rocked back and forth from one foot to another.  I noticed he was holding a paperback book in one hand.

After Elle finished her drawing we stepped back and I watched as Joseph and the other boy set the machine up with a new configuration.  They were both wearing track pants and hooded sweatshirts.  Both had brown hair in need of a trim.  Both wore glasses.  You guys, it was almost creepy.  It was like Joseph from the future was standing right there next to us. A kid who didn't understand social cues like how far to stand away from a stranger or to ask before jumping in and helping with something you know how to do. A paperback book in his hand.  I actually got tears in my eyes.  I'll blame it on the pregnancy hormones. It just struck me as awesome somehow.

Then it was time to leave. I needed to use the restroom and the kids picked that exact moment to stop listening to me and chose to argue and ignore my instructions.  I was able to get them situated but I came within .03 seconds of peeing my pants right in the middle of the museum.  I couldn't even really scold them though because seriously? Best kids ever.

Then we drove home and we sang together "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying 'Hey-o! I'm a Lego'" and it was awesome and fun and totally made up for the drama of the morning. I need to take my kids out more often because they are so worth the effort.


Swistle said...

The driving/parking makes me feel like scrabbling to get out, Out, OUT!!!, but the rest of the trip sounds like it went so well, and the glimpse of Future Joseph is so cool.

Stimey said...

So, I have kids myself and should be all, well, MY kids are the best kids and hers are the SECOND best kids, but after reading this, I kinda think that your kids just might be the BEST kids. ("Arrrrsperger's" kicked it over the line, if you must know.)

I love every damn thing about this post.

susan said...

This whole post is full of win. (Well, except for the whole parking lot thing, but even that ended up working out all right.)

Ellen said...


I am a PhD Student in Paris, France and do a research on surrogate mothers. I was wondering if you might be interested to participate in my study? it would imply me sending you through email several questionnaires (3 or 4 since you are pregantright now I think?) and a consent form. It would be anonymous. I already have met with several surros but the more the better for the research. Let me know if you'd would be interested in that. I can answer all your questions too.

Take care and good luck with everything!

Ellen Lorenceau
PhD student
Université Paris Ouest

Anonymous said...

That is THE best story ever!! I love how "my grandkids" got their designs to fly right up and out of the tube!! And the "future Joseph" was sooooo cooool....that was just meant to be!! Parking there was a challenge for me to the day I went with Jesse and Joseph last summer. But, we made it, too! It sounds like you made a lot of memories that day!! Love to all of you... Grandma Judy