Sunday, June 2, 2013

Isn't he too young for a museum?

Turns out, N is just the right age for museums. Children's museums, that is. And I am the right age for them too, because some days it is just time for a new space in which to be together. I read some advice once that a good strategy for spending time with very young children is to bring them into a space that you enjoy and let them be there with you. We have followed that advice - visiting college campuses and libraries, beaches and mountains. But obviously, not every place that I enjoy is just right for my toddling babe. Paris, for example.

Children's museums, like these other places, walk the line between a space for me and a space for N.

Sure, he's a little young to truly take in the CA Science Center's floor-to-ceiling photo montages and video screens, but boy did he love playing on the stairs in the Ecosystem Discovery Room. And yes, the herb garden at Kidspace might be more up my alley than his, but washing fruit in the water tables? Man! Awesome!

We suggested a membership to a local children's museum as a lovely holiday gift his grandparents could give him, and we now go about once a week. It is a nice change for both of us. Plus, it came with a reciprocal membership to museums across the country.

We've also visited (with the same membership) a children's museum in L.A. called The Zimmer (five huge stars) where N got to make mini-meals in a cafe, jump off a life raft into an ocean of blue balls, push a shopping cart on a shopping car track and climb into a special treehouse built around a real tree, indoors. We could live there for a quite a while, ordering in food and falling asleep smiling and exhausted every night.

We even discovered a museum in my parents' hometown in Minnesota with a massive loft full of toddler delights where our (California) membership brought our whole family in for free. We all played with the magnetic wall and the airstream, and helped N climb the toy bridge, plant vegetables in the cloth garden, and eat a tart in the Medieval room. My mom made a complex train track on the train table, and I took my shoes off and climbed into the fossil pit with my brush, ready for action.

I mightn't have thought I'd already have taken my toddler to a museum dozens of times before his second birthday, but that's because before he was born, I'd never been to a children's museum. Now I'm tempted to plan our family vacations around them. I keep hearing about this place called the Exploratorium...

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