May 2, 2012

The Met With Toddlers: Let your kids run free!

Very serious face, enjoying very serious art at The Met
The most important job I have as a parent is encouraging my child to become a citizen of the world. Our mini Upper East Side world consists of avoiding dog poop on the street, staying alert in massive crowds of people, dining out in a way that doesn't disturb other patrons (i.e. no toys or loud distractions at the table), and visiting an occasional museum without wreaking havoc. Before I became a mother I (naively) swore that my life wouldn't change; that I would simply incorporate my child into my life. Well, life changed A LOT but a lot has stayed the same because I trust Savvy to be part of it and have welcomed her into it. Take today for example:

The original plan was to see a marionette show in Central Park--SOLD OUT. Today was super rainy, so our secondary plan to go to the Great Lawn with some friends was nixed in favor of visiting the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I thought the Temple of Dendur would be "toddler friendly" as it's pretty much a wide open space with massive artifacts that anyone can walk into and touch. Naturally, that space was closed for a private function...

So we left our strollers at coat check and let the elevator take us and our untethered toddlers to the top floor with no destination in mind. A lovely information desk worker (not at all judgmental) handed us a map and suggested an itinerary that the kids would enjoy - an Assyrian Palace, a room full of Buddhas, and a balcony with a view.

First stop was the Palace of Ashurnasirpal II. Say that 10 times fast. This Assyrian palace stood in what is now Iraq, so I'm crossing Iraq off our international staycation to-do list. This totally counts!

After walking through the Mesopotamian section, we came to an overlook and large hallways for Savvy and her boyfriends to explore:

Our friends :)
We made it to another larger-than-life room housing The Shrine of Four Buddhas and this massive guy (or gal?):

Savvy reading about Chinese sculpture circa 500-600AD
MASSIVE piece. Makes you marvel at the artists' work and the restorers'.

Savvy lounging demurely. Of course the boys want to climb rather than perch.
So Savvy followed suit and tried to climb over as well. (No artwork was destroyed :-D)
After the Buddha room, we wandered into a special exhibit on Storytelling in Japanese Art where photography wasn't permitted. We looked at beautiful scrolls of illustrated dragon vs man adventures (at least that's my untrained eye's interpretation). I thought we reached a dead end, but an unassuming door lead us to the American decorative arts, then our caravan of moms and tots took to the stairs to reach a large courtyard and more freedom for the kiddos.

Smooshed face, pressed up against the glass.

My not-really-a-baby-anymore baby with mother & baby statue
Been to the Met so many times, but never came across this HOUSE before. This is indoors. Beautiful.

Penny for the fountain

Make a wish!
The face when I told her "no more money" after she threw 5 pennies into the fountain
Grump face was short-lived. This beautiful, calm, introspective face prevailed throughout our morning adventure.
So the moral of this story is trust your child. Bring them to the museum. Let them out of the stroller. Make sure they don't destroy anything--pick them up when you need to--but model good behavior and enjoy sharing an experience. You can do it! Make the security guards sweat a little as they fear grubby hands destroying all the art *wink wink*. (Savvy did manage to dislodge the descriptive plaque of a bear statue, prompting a quick intervention from security. One of her little boyfriends yanked it off as well, but it wasn't our fault! The glue strips holding it down weren't sticky at all!)

And if your kid is old enough to speak, listen carefully. On our way out after eating lunch, Savvy kept saying "bye bye mun-eh wada" over and over until I realized she was saying "bye bye money water". You say money water; I say wishing well. It's all good.


Amber @ Backwards Life said...

I adore the Met. I haven't been in years and years. I really want to take Alexa to the Museum of Natural History sometime really really REALLY soon!

The Monko said...

I love that you took her to the museum. Those huge sculptures must have been an awesome experience for the tinies. I tried taking my son to the Tate when he was quite young (about 16 months I think). It was a bit of a disaster. they had some Anoosh Capur canvases hanging really low, and he just kept trying to touch them, and everything else. I eded up having to put him back in the buggy. I have to admit I have been a bit scared since then (because he hasn't got any less impulsive over the last year!) but you have inspired me, i think i might try again.

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