The last time I took the girls to The Museum of Natural History they were in a double stroller. It was a frigid day. We went with friends and had to walk about 40 blocks to get to the museum because my friend was apprehensive about taking a stroller on the subway. I remember thinking the museum was okay, but not that great. Yesterday, about five years later, it was interesting to see how my opinion changed little.
This time Lilah would not allow us to take the subway. She has developed a fear of crossing in between the cars of the the train and subways. This is very limiting in New York City! But, since it was 90 degrees and the heat and smells of the subway would be overpowering, we splurged on a taxi. Alas, it was not the cash cab! But we enjoyed the ride anyway.
Our mission in New York City was to visit the museum and see how many items we could find that were in one of our favorite movies, Night at the Museum. When we arrived, rather than being greeted with the front of the museum that was featured in so many of the scenes, we arrived to....scaffolding! But hey...there is a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt!
When we went inside there was a wonderful quote I just had to take a picture of. The girls and I read it together.
With map in hand, we set off on our hunt. We found lions.
Lilah found a collection of dioramas that had nothing to do with the movie, but everything to do with her study of ancient history. They were intricate, colorful, detailed and visually stunning. We marveled over the workmanship that went into making just one display. But alas we did not find a westward expansion display housed next to a Grecian one. Too bad. I would have loved to have found a little Owen Wilson!
We had to hunt high and low for Dexter, the Capuchin monkey. He was not in the Hall of African Mammals and we read every latin label until we discovered him! Hi Dex! It is a good thing you are behind glass where you cannot steal my keys!
As I walked through this museum I reflected on the history of it. It is a cultural institution. I want my children to say they have been there. But I find it quite boring. Everything, like Dexter, is dead, stuffed and behind glass. One of the first questions Lilah asked me is if they are recreations or were once live animals. Many of the plaques will state where the animals came from, which African nation they were taken from, and which government official was given proper thanks. I was left wishing there was more interaction between the children and the exhibits. Not too much, as I have the opposite critique of the brand new CT Science Center that it is too interactive, but a balance would be nice.
Sorry no gum today!
No bone for you Rexie!
We spent about 5 hours wandering the four floors of this museum. We were tired! When the girls had looked at all they wanted to look at, dreamt about having a jewelry box full of the rock in the Hall of Minerals, and shopped for little souveniers in the gift shop, we headed to where Greg works on 5th Ave.
This time we were able to flag down a Prius taxi! How cool, just like our car, only I told the girls the taxi Prius was significantly CLEANER than our Prius! And again, we were disappointed, no cash cab! Rather than go to Greg’s office we decided to wait for him at another American Cultural Instititution....
This was the least expensive trip to American Girl I have ever had! Lilah bought a book and Grace an adorable winter hat. Here are my girls of the year, standing next to their girls of the years.
We ended our first un-school day, with a yummy dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, where we were met by my mother, who also works in New York City. Here my mom was thinking she scored some extra time with her granddaughters, looking forward to the train ride home where they would be all sleepy and snuggly only to discover we were on the same train as friends they had made on the train ride in! How coincidental!! Look how far they sat from us!
That is Lilah’s pink hat, on the opposite end of the train car. It was the perfect ending to a great day. The ride with friends kept them awake and by allowing them (for the first time ever) to sit so far away from us and be responsible for their own behavior on a train car filled with tired commuters who have very little patience for young children, they felt quite grown-up. And that is how I wanted this day to end, with them feeling grown, independent, capable to doing new things yet within a comfortable distance from assistance. Our train ride how was symbolic of how I want this year to be: filled with new experiences, new friends, new independence, scattered in with much learning, growing and reflecting, combined with lots of love, support and lastly, a healthy dose of confidence.
Grace and Lilah, I hope your first un-school day was as fun for you as it was for me!