This morning I went with a colleague and her almost two year old daughter to the Philadelphia Please Touch Museum, which is the area children’s museum. The original plan was to go to the Philadelphia Zoo, especially since I live only a few blocks away and walk or ride my bike by it almost daily. The fact that I haven’t been yet and have been in Philly for 6 months is, apparently, a tragedy. But the outside temperature is below freezing and that’s before wind chill factors in. So we’ll save the zoo for a warmer day.
I don’t have kids. I’ve done a lot of babysitting in my time, and many of my friends have kids, but the only child I have is my dog. For now, that’s plenty. But I do enjoy spending time with my friends’ kids, which is why I agreed to accompany my colleague to the children’s museum.
The Please Touch Museum is fascinating. Lots and lots of things to do: buses to drive, a water play area, a supermarket complete with stockroom and cash registers, music, a Mad Hatter tea party, the list goes on and on. I remember going to a children’s museum in the Washington, D.C. area growing up, and loving it. One of the few places were children are encouraged to experience things. It’s almost overwhelming there’s so much going on. In fact, often you see kids just stop at the top of the ramp and stare as they try to take it all in.
Because it is still so cold out, and the museum is pretty much an indoor playground, and there was a birthday party today, there were lots and lots of kids there. The museum itself is geared towards the under 7 age range, which means lots of toddlers and pre-K kids running around. It was interesting to be a child-free individual and be able to step back and just observe. Over the course of the 1 1/2 hours we were there, I heard the following phrases many, many times:
“NO!” (usually from the child, but sometimes the parent)
“Not in your mouth, please.”
“Say thank you.”
“It’s the little boy/girl’s turn now, so let’s go someplace else.”
“Why don’t we go play with the x now.” (not really a question from the parent, but rather a this-is-the-plan statement)
“Watch where you’re going!”
Today they have a band there doing some “Latin jazz” (as the band called it), which added to the cacophony of noise in the building. Some children were interested, some even danced, but there were a large number of them that watched for 10 minutes and then wanted to move on. When the music stopped, my colleague turned to me and said: “Wow, it just got really quiet! Wait! They stopped the music. Ah.” And it did get quieter, relatively, that is.
As the time got closer and closer to lunch/nap time, the number of meltdowns started to increase and there was a steady stream of people leaving. As we made our way out the doors, there were just as many people coming in. Cold weekends are a good business day for indoor playgrounds.