August 28th, 2011

planet

don't be this parent at the science museum

We took Josie to Exploration Place this weekend, it's our local science museum, we had a really good time. I could write about that, but I'd rather make another post about how I feel empowered to judge other parents now. And if you don't like it, well just keep in mind that judging me for being judgmental is also being judgmental... ha ha!

Are Marc and I the only parents who enjoy science museums? We play with the exhibits, we learn things, we make it about us. Might as well, right? We're the ones who bought the tickets, and at 14 months old Josie won't remember this place in six hours. Anything she learns at this point is pure coincidence or osmosis.

So this is the third science museum we've been to in a month (we're on a roll!) and this is the scene I'm getting all too used to: Marc and I are playing either with Josie or with with half an eye on her as she wanders around and does weird toddler stuff like pat the display signs. There are always some young people or teenagers also on their own, having fun. And then there are the other parents. The aloof, sideline-bound, other parents.

They're sometimes ignoring everything around them, texting on their phones to make it clear they're above all the "kid stuff".

Or worse, they're LOOMING over their child making corrections and fussing over every possible situation that seems potentially dangerous, messy, or unsanitary. And heaven forbid an unsanctioned "other kid interaction" occurs... the second a toy is taken or not shared, someone is pushed aside, someone doesn't wait a turn, there's immediate intervention. Gone are the days when kids had to learn to deal with the fact that sometimes toys just get taken, or that if you push somebody you might get pushed back, or that the consequence of being a little jerk was that you didn't make friends. Now mom and dad are there to swoop in and legislate everything from above. But I digress.

Look, the engineer in me loves these museums because they represent science at its coolest. It's fun, it's collaborative, it presents challenges for everyone. If you think it's kid stuff, like if you think blocks are no longer fun once you have the motor skills to stack one on top of the other, you're missing the point. And you're demonstrating to your kid how to miss the point!

I read some where that everyone knows you're supposed to read to your child, but another thing that helps is if they see you reading, like with your own books. Little kids want to be like you, and if reading is a part of life they'll appreciate it that much more.

Science is the same way. There's always something new you can engage in. I know (good lord I know) that sometimes as a parent you're low on sleep, preoccupied with how to schedule lunch in, maybe you've seen the same toy 100 times. Been there! But the museum should be a sanctuary from all that, a place to relax and let go and have fun. Am I right?

Let your kid see you play, show your kid that even though you're big you're still learning, and let them figure something out on their own. If the place isn't too crowded, let them be 10 feet away from you. Gasp, I know! It'll be okay! More than okay... they'll be smarter!