Whatever ambitions I had to do something fun with the kids today was quelled by overall laziness, and increasing guilt about many pressing office things that need to be done. After I got the laziness out of the way, I finally sat down to renew driver's license, pay my fine for my stop-sign ticket, make school donations, update the calendar for all the upcoming school events, untangle my compay's payroll this quarter, make estimated tax payments, return several packages of clothes I'd ordered...pain. I need a day off!
Besides, I'd taken them to an interesting outing yesterday anyway, to an aviation museum. I was hesitant about bringing Katrina, but she really likes airplanes (despite what she says about being afraid of jets), so I thought I'd risk it.
Overall it worked, as I'd coached myself ahead of time not to be too frustrated at being caught between two different ways of seeing a museum. One is the toddler-way: run around from thing to thing, touch stuff, push buttons, sit for a few minutes, but always keep moving. The other way is the little-boy way: spend hours inside a flight simulator and pounce on anything that smells in the slightest like a video game. Breadth versus depth.
First the history of aviation displays, which I found fascinating.
Katrina the Blue Angels pilot (in a genuine Blue Angels cockpit):
While the boys crashed time and time again in a flight simulator.
An "aerial" view.
Outside there's a part of an old 747, the double-decker kind. I had to test my skills in the pilot's seat.
Fortunately I had a very enthusiastic copilot.
This place kindly provides picnic tables, so they (basically) had lunch that I'd brought. Then we found a small kids' play area, where there were some very nice wooden play-aircraft, and yet another cockpit to play in, this one enclosed.
Just as we were about to leave, I took Katrina to the bathroom, and sent the boys into the boys' bathroom. Katrina fussed a lot in the bathroom (it was well past naptime), delaying us. I hoped the boys were being good outside the bathrooms....would that be possible? Please God, just this once? Can I cash in some good-mom karma for taking them to a cool museum?
No, Gabriel had the stroller in a big wheelie and was running it around in circles, hollering. Pretty much like he'd done at the first bathroom break.
But Julian had cornered a man behind an information desk. I heard him ask, "Did any of these planes ever really land?" pointing to the display planes hung from the ceiling. The man was visibly glad to see me, and said with an audible sigh of relief, "oh, there's your mother." He went on to answer Julian's question and a few more.
The man, impressed by the inquisitive 5-year-old, suggested to me that we get books about planes out of the library. "WAY ahead of you there, thanks!" I said. Not only do we have a pile of library books about planes and other military vehicles, but Gabriel's choice from his school library is "An Encyclopedia of Airplane Engines," or something like that. No wonder he declared with such authority that a turbo-prop jet engine doesn't have an afterburner. (I don't think that makes any sense, but what do I know?)
I am so intrigued by Julian's confidence and willingness to march up to someone in a position of authority and so clearly and seriously ask a question. No shyness, no giggling or looking at the ground, no whispering, and usually no prompting from grownups. The man must have been baffled that these two boys were related -- one acting like a total buffoon, and the other so studious.
Funny how I didn't like museums as a kid -- New York City is a great place to develop a dislike for museums, right? And now I really like taking the kids to them. I think I just found the right kind of museum.