Monday, February 18, 2008

Surrounded by kids...

Spending the day with a bunch of kids really makes you wonder how you'll be as a parent. Today Craig and I went with Craig's brother's family to Strong National Museum of Play. For those of you who don't live in Rochester, Strong Museum is a kid-focused museum with a lot of hands-on exhibits and a major focus on toys. It's a great place for kids and adults alike. Craig's brother and his wife have four kids--5 year old twins (boy and a girl), a 21 month old, and a seven month old. Obviously with so much to see and do, sometimes it was tough steering the older kids to something new, or getting them to be patient when we had to do something else before the thing they wanted to do, but for the most part they were pretty good. The middle one is a handful because he doesn't like to sit still...if he had his way, he'd have run around the whole museum solo. The youngest is still a sweetie, though a little spit-up incident made Craig and I realize yet again that we have to somehow fortify our stomachs before our baby arrives! I'm hoping eventually we'll be as unfazed about bodily functions as our poor sister-in-law was. It was definitely tiring, but I guess when it's your own kid and you're totally into whatever they're into, something like that has to be a lot of fun regardless. We don't see them all a lot, especially in a situation like that, so it's hard to know how to steer them toward things they'll like or make it a more interactive experience for them. Again, that's something that I hope comes with experience.

As you can imagine, with it being a week of vacation and today in particular being a holiday (more parents are off), the museum was crazy busy. And with so many kids there, you really see a little of everything. There were a lot of rude kids, ones who pushed and shoved, others who stuck their nose in the middle of whatever other kids were doing, etc. We all went to school with kids like that, so why I'd think that would change, I have no idea. I guess maybe in this age of daycare you'd think kids would be better socialized, but maybe not. We saw our share of tantrums. Although you can't avoid tantrums completely, watching it all as a parent-to-be, you can't help but hope you figure out the magic formula to keep them to a minimum. And finally, another thing I kept noticing were parents that looked really haggard. I suppose dragging your cranky kid around a busy museum can do that...I just hope that's not their look on a regular basis. Probably wishful thinking, though.

I guess the whole experience gives you this full-on vision of life as a parent...but of course you have to keep in mind that a full museum is really a catalyst for a lot of crankiness. We probably saw a lot of the worst today...and of course, you never notice the good kids. After all, they're not doing anything to call attention to themselves. All those people guarantees you're going to see a little bit of everything, and I'll admit it, it was intimidating. Parenting isn't easy, and I just hope we figure it out okay despite starting from scratch.

On a happy note, I made it through the butterfly exhibit without a panic attack. It wasn't exactly enjoyable, but at least I wasn't so busy freaking out that I couldn't admit some of them were pretty. If they would have landed on me, it would have been a different story...they may be pretty, but they're still bugs. And big ones at that. Ewww.

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