We have done Mommy Time and Daddy Time for years now. I first hear of the idea from a mom of seven I met at a playgroup years ago (back when we only had three kids). Once a week her husband would take one of their school aged kids out the local coffee shop or other small excursion, giving each kid an afternoon out with Dad once a month. Some families might call these Kid Dates. Whatever you call it, a little one on one time is always a valuable thing--especially in a large family.
For months, Ariadne has been asking to go 'the museum.' With a little probing I discovered she meant the art museum. The request was to see paintings of flowers, and humans (by which she meant statues of people). I intended to make it to the Jane Austen Reading Room, a visiting historical room. The woman working the front desk directed us to The Parasol by Richard E. Miller and Ganymede and the Eagle by Bertel Thorvalsen.
Both suggestions were well recieved. Ganymede and the Eagle she particularly liked. (And so do I. In fact, it is one I remember from my childhood).
However, we did find ourselves experiencing The Pull of Technology. Have you experienced this on a recent museum visit? The art, or the dinosaur bones, or what-have-you, is right in front of their face, and all the kid wants to do is stare at a screen--often showing an inferior version the exact same thing! I know museums are trying to be tech savvy, but I wish they could figure out a way to do it that doesn't compete with the very thing they are trying to display.
Here we have Ariadne staring at a photo of Ganymede and the Eagle, while I try to convince her to go a few steps and see the sculpture of Ganymede and the Eagle. I eventually succeeded. While I appreciate going to find a specific piece of art, I enjoy unexpected discoveries at least as much. We also stumbled upon medieval armor, early Christian art, and an antique elevator which all captivated her. An ornate writing desk was another unexpected delight.
Our final stop was the Jane Austen Reading Room. Aria was already mentioning she was ready to go home, so I thought we would spend just a minute or two (the key to art museums with small children is leaving when they are ready). To my surprise, Ariadne was just as interested as I was. We read Good Night, Mr. Darcy and a board book version Pride and Prejudice. Charming as I find these books, I sometimes wonder about the wisdom of laying out the plot of classics for toddlers. Never will they be surprised by the endings of these enduring tales. Of course suspense alone does not make good literature, but there is something about that first time you read a really good book. You can never get it back.
Aria has a fondness for Darth Vader and Son, a comic style little book imagining Darth Vader parenting a four-year-old Luke. If you are a Star Wars fan, it his hilarous. We got it for Charles as a Father's Day gift. Ariadne requested it repeatedly, so I shouldn't have been surprised when we watched the original trilogy this winter and she knew all family connections from the get-go.
The second Jane Austen room is from Emma, which I have not read. Just maybe I will get a chance to read it before the exhibit comes down in June. The text informs the room, and I'm sure it would be more fun to recognize them from memory than to go through the museum materials that point them out.
A reproduction of Jane's travel desk is available to touch and poke around in. Ariadne was particularly interested in the sealing wax and the letters.
On the way out we saw one final painting of flowers and a GIANT sculpture of a human head. Aria was pretty excited by the human head. We talked about the giant head while we waited for the stop light to change. Ariadne correctly surmised that is was made of many pieces and was not really, really old (as some of the statues we'd seen).
And so ended our Mommy Time. The very next day she started asking about her next mommy time and making plans. While she may have yet to develop patience or a realistic sense of time, at least I know she enjoyed the trip. I'm sure we will be back to the art museum.