Culturing My Kiddos

My mother was an inordinately thorough tourist and, I admit, when it comes to culturing my kiddos, this apple didn’t fall far from its tree.

But in my childhood, it could be 6pm and we’d have been in a museum for the previous five hours and my mom would still be reading Every. Single. Panel in Every. Single. Exhibit.

After which, Mom would’ve remembered our AAA guide book’s recommendation and suggested, “Oh, that house where some obscure author slept one time in 1857 is just 16 more blocks away.” So we’d keep going.

She’d drag my whiny ass everywhere. And I do remember complaining; like…the entire time.

I swore I’d never be the same.

But I still wonder – is it worth it?

I feel empowered by walking out of a museum within 90 minutes because, let’s face it…nobody has that kind of attention span. Or hip-flexor strength. Or stamina in their shoulders to hold a backpack of snacks and water bottles and jackets and an iPad (for emergencies) while staring at dinosaurs/paintings/historical dioramas for four hours. (Even when that backpack is the best/coolest diaper bag for dads.)

But folks…I did it, today. Culturing my kiddos became my #1 mission…to their extreme annoyance and boredom.

I’m in London with my partner (after two months solo in NYC). But he’s still working all the time as his two Broadway shows are prepping for opening nights on the West End. So it’s still just me and the kids.

Except, again: we’re in London. Totally foreign city to me. No clue how to navigate with kids. Ugh. Pray for me – with a charming accent.

So today we went to the British Museum. We saw mummies. Lots of mummies. Mummified adults the size of my 5yo, mummified cats, a mummified alligator, a mummified eel (wtf?) The kids were horrified/fascinated/traumatized. But mostly bored.

My kids gaping at mummies, then quickly bored. Culturing my kiddos is worse that pulling teeth.
My kids gaping at mummies…one second before they’re over it and bored.

Seriously – we saw one mummy and my 3yo says, “I’m bored. Let’s go home.” Admittedly, he might’ve been overwhelmed by the 3,000 students mobbing the room of 3,000 year-old mummies. But really, I think he was like, “Nothing to TOUCH in this museum? This place blows.”

But we were in the GD British Museum. We weren’t gonna leave without seeing some more priceless stolen treasures. (I kept saying “And the British stole that, and the British stole this, and that…” Curiously, neither of them asked “why?” or “but stealing is bad, Daddy.” They just begged to leave without demonstrating a shred of moral rectitude.)

So I dragged them to see the Samurai armor since we’d recently read “Night of the Ninjas” of the Magic Tree House series.

(BTW: zzzzz.)

We continued. “Hey look, kids – a 3-story tall statue of Buddha!”

“Daddy? Can we go to the cake pop store?” (Read: Starbucks.)

“Shut up and look at this amazing stolen Roman thingy.”

“Daddy, my stomach feels angry that we are here. Can we go?”

“Are you gonna throw up? No? Then look at that sarcophagus.”

“No. I mean, yes, I’ll throw up. If we stay here.”

“Can it, kid. Look at these stolen friezes from ancient Greece.”

And then: The Rosetta Stone. I mean – the translator that opened humankind to a trove of another rich civilization. Kids, this is one of the most important archaeological finds in all human history!

I mean…the ROSETTA STONE. This is bare minimum for culturing my kiddos!

My kids rolling their eyes in front of the Rosetta Stone as I'm trying desperately at culturing my kiddos.
My kids rolling their eyes in front of the Rosetta Stone.

Okay, okay. So they’re only 5 and 3. I should cut ’em a break. But we’re in the BRITISH MUSEUM for stolen’s sake!

“Look guys! Sphinxes and obelisks and some old stolen temple, oh my!”

“Daddy? Can we buy a present?”

“No. Look at this medieval…metal thingy.” (I’m boring myself, by this point.)

“I hate it, here, Daddy. There’s nothing to do but look at stuff.”

“Right, but you’re growing smarter by the second. I just know it. You’ll pass that test to get into the G&T program and I’ll never have to worry about you being dumb. I’ll just worry about you being a drug dealer at Ivy league schools. And that’s preferable to you being stupid.”

“Daddy, don’t say stupid.”

And then, it happened. We stumbled into a room of pilloried splendor that even my kids couldn’t avert their eyes. They were transfixed, they were they were stimulated. My nagging and dragging had been worth it. They were changed beings from near-toddlers to almost-tweens. Such magic a little T&A can do…even for little American, uncultured troglodytes.

For ten titillating and hilarious minutes, butts, boobs and penises made us all giggle and thrilled my kids. They were finally engaged and curious.

But after those ten minutes (make it six), and they were back to…”Daddy, this is boring. I wanna go.”

And we did. We’d been there an hour. Pretty good compromise, if I do say so, myself.

One more minute of giggling and they were back to…Daddy, this is boring. I wanna go.

And we did. We’d been there an hour. Pretty good compromise, if I do say so, myself.

5 comments

  1. This is great! I’m so glad you are dragging them to witness the splendor of the ill-gotten gains of the British Empire. An hour is plenty. If you in a place for long enough, go several times for short periods. They will develop favorites that they’ll recognize over time, and art will become a friend to them. 

    As an art teacher who has dragged kids on their first museum visit, I applaud your efforts. I have a few hints for future visits:

    There’s a 3 question “experience” you can do: Ask yourselves/them to describe the work, then ask what is happening in the piece, and finally, what the artist was tring to say or why did the artist make the piece. Don’t look at the tags until after. This is a “visual thinking strategy” technique that is used to increase people’s observation abilities, and has been used by medical students and NYPD.      Try engaging them by having them pose like the artwork. Have one be the director and help modify the attempt to make it correct. Then take some photos. When you’re home, they can try to do it again with costumes.

    Ask them to imagine what would be beyond the edges of the picture, or where the sculpture is supposed to be. Allow for being silly. It’s way more fun, and they will more readily engage with the work. Irreverence is just fine as long as it doesn’t piss off the other visitors too much and get you all thrown out.

    There’s a genre of Dutch paintings of daily life that is hysterical and would provide endless amusement to them. (17th century Golden Age of Dutch Art)

    Have loads of fun! Anita

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hilarious recollections of traveling with Mom.
    I bet they’d like the wax museum.
    This whole column reminds me of that old
    Axiom: You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. They’re cute and I love their bored expression. This reminds me of when I was a nanny in London and had to take two little angels to the museum. They just didn’t get why they had to look at stuff that weren’t moving lool

    Liked by 1 person

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