Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stuff! He's! Allowed! To! Touch!

For his birthday, Uncle Big Brother and Auntie Social Worker Sister-in-Law got Thumper a membership to the Austin Children's Museum, so today we broke it in. There was a garage that we could supposedly park in for $3, but it was full, so I parked in one another couple of blocks away since I hadn't planned ahead well enough to have meter change in the car.

First, we picnicked in Republic Square. We sat in the shade next to the fountain and shared some lunch while we talked about the fountain and the buildings and the cars and the nasty, mangy pigeons that hung around looking like they were up to no good. The way Thumper eats, I'm sure they thoroughly enjoyed the rest of his food after we left. Then we returned our lunch stuff to the car, where I made him suffer the indignity of changing his diaper on the trunk, and I gave him a shoulder ride to the museum. I wasn't sure what the parking situation would be for strollers at the museum, but I needn't have worried: there were strollers abandoned around every corner in the joint.

Still, the shoulder ride was fun, and we gave more than a couple bus-waitin' folk and panhandlin' folk a smile or two on our way. And Thumper busted out in a big grin whenever we got a good look at our reflection in a window. But of course, I was sweating in embarrassing profusion by the time we got there, so after converting our gift certificate into a member card, we decided to start slowly in the gated toddler area. He was thrilled. He could've stayed there all day, but it also seemed to be the dumping area for diaper bags, so when I got tired of stopping him from swiping everybody else's sippy cups, we decided to see what else we could see.

We never got past the "Play It By Ear" exhibit. It was full! Of stuff! Stuff he could touch! And nobody stopped him! And it was loud! And there were kids! Running everywhere! Kids! He was quite wound up and didn't know what to do with himself. We stopped for a moment at the "Which Way Is Which?" display, which consisted of headphones with plastic hoses coming out of them, and funnels on the ends of the hoses. The idea was to mess with your perception of where sound is coming from by redirecting the soundwaves. I put a set on his head, and he got very still as his eyes got bigger and bigger until he just had to throw them down. Then I'd put them on my head, and he'd laugh until he just had to pull them off and throw them down.

Quickly he became overwhelmed and went back to the relative calm of the toddler area, but not before becoming fascinated with a child in a stroller who was somehow sleeping through the cacophony. When I explained, "He's sleeping," and made it clear I didn't want Thumper touching him, it was back to the safety of fenced-in youngster land.

So, thanks Big Brother and SWSIL. I think over the next year he'll get used to it and want to explore further and further afield. And I think I can bring up to 4 kids with my membership, so maybe we'll spend some of our last summer days with the cousins there. They can show him the finer points of enjoying the Children's Museum. But I'll have to stock the car up with quarters. We parked for 2 1/2 hours, and it cost us $13.50. $13.50! That's the most expensive free museum trip we've ever had. RadiJazz was practically a bargain!

1 comment:

anniemcq said...

We have a museum like that here that Joe-Henry still loves. His favorite is the "store" where he can work the check out. So glad you and Thumper had a great time.

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