Taking kids on a family outing to an art museum is fun.
No. Strike that. It's more than fun, it's an adventure.
But there are a few things you should know.
First, be aware that when you make an executive decision to forgo the usual tennis match of fun activities you could be doing today (but won't be doing because, as it turns out, the argument IS the activity) and tell the kids WE'RE GOING TO AN ART MUSEUM, there will be tears.
Big, fat, you-might-as-well-have-shipped-our-dog-to-A FARM IN THE COUNTRY-type tears.
They might even go boneless and refuse to put on pants. Who knows?
Persevere. Culture and broadened horizons are worth the donning of pants.
You might get around this little road block by offering to let your kids each take a friend with them to the museum.
Don't think of it as your children having partners in crime, think of it as them having moral support.
They will each have a compadre with whom they can explore contemporary expressions of existentialism as well as play hide-and-seek in the coat room.
Note to future self: It may be a good idea to steer clear of the coin-operated lockers, or at least demand to be the holder of the dayglow orange key. You will thank me for avoiding that frantic (and ultimately fruitless) end-of-adventure key hunt, not to mention having to explain to two different sets of families how it was you managed to lose their children's jackets.
It may be also comforting to know that security professionals LOVE children.
They follow their every move.
Nothing gets their attention faster than a first-grader running at breakneck speed toward an irreplaceable piece of art or history.
And we are the careful parents.
Aside from wrapping our kids in padding and attaching them to harnesses with bungee cords, we've prepped them for every manner of temptation.
Do not run. Do not jump.
Do not touch. Anything.
Don't even think about touching. Anything.
Even if they tell you you can touch something, pretend it will give you a shock. ...
And don't pick your nose. Even if you think no one is looking.
Note to future musem-going self: There is a reason children give you the stink-eye when you tell them they will have fun at the museum despite the fact that they can't act like children there.
If you can manage it, you might want to follow a tour.
I'm telling you it will be a hoot when your guide walks you through the complexities of German Fluxist Joseph Beuy's “Lightning with Stag in its Glare,” describing in detail the features of the piece and how they relate to the artist's obsession with the primal, elemental world … with the exception of the one (and only) detail my son was so eager to point out:
“It looks like poop.”
Moving on …
But not too far … because when you turn around to clamp your hand over your kid's mouth, the docent will notice something peculiar about you.
Something the ticket seller … and the bathroom attendant … and dozen or so security guards prior to this very moment had somehow overlooked.
“Is that a backpack?”
“Uh … I suppose it is,” I answered thinking about the nylon drawstring bag containing all my worldly possessions: a credit card, wet wipes and a package of fruit snacks.
“How did you get that in here? You can't have a backpack in the gallery. Handbags only.”
She was kindly, though, and her words were not in any way as accusing as the voice in my head was translating.
I turn, red-faced, to notice all the gentile women gliding about the gallery encumbered with briefcase-sized shoulder bags but unencumbered by knee-high sprogs, but I said nothing.
All I could think about was how was I going to corral the cats without stepping foot into the space where they had dispersed.
“I'll tell you what … I'll carry the bag over one shoulder and we'll call it a shoulder bag.”
What were they going to say? “Go stow the bag in a locker, I'll herd your cats?”
Nope … it's more like:
“How about you get the kids and go stow the bag in a locker.”
Moving on ...
Of course, there are things you can do to alleviate your embarrassment.
You can drink.
Oh, settle down. I'm kidding.
You can't drink. You have to drive later … that is if you can find the locker key your son insisted on keeping in sweaty, art destroying hands.