Friday, May 28, 2010

Long Car Rides

Our town has a small children's museum within walking distance from our house.  They run a lot of wonderful programs and we visit about once every couple of weeks.  They offer a reciprocating membership to a bunch of other museums that we can get into free.  My husband is very goal oriented, so if we are within 40 miles of a museum we have a membership to, we nearly always go.  Because of this, we are something of children's museum connoisseurs.  So far we have been to The Children's Museum in Easton in Massachusetts, Kidcity in Connecticut, Children's Museum of Southeastern Connecticut, The Providence Children's Museum, Boston Children's Museum, Hands-on House In Pennsylvania, Children's Museum Pittsburgh, The Children's Museum at Saratoga in New York, and The Liberty Science Center in Jersey City.  Don't get me wrong, we still have a long way to go, but we're steadily making our way down the list.  Many of these museums we have been to multiple times.  The main reason for this is we do a long drive once a year out to western Pennsylvania.  And we do this trip DVD-Free. 

This is a drive of many many hours that my brother and I were subjected to as children.  My mother seems relatively sane, so I don't think it caused too much permanent damage. As for my brother and me, I think we cherish the memories of the drive almost as much as arriving and playing in the freedom of my grandmother's rural Pennsylvania acreage.  My most memorable car event occurred when we were probably something like 3 and 8 years old (I am older).  I don't know how long we had been fighting, the drive is something like 8 -10 hours, so probably for about 6.  My mother abruptly pulled over, got out of the car and started throwing the luggage from the trunk onto the roadside.  We, of course, assumed we had gone too far and now lived on the side of the road.  When she was through, she looked at us, eyes glowing with frustration, and said, "OUT!"  Trembling we slid out of the back seat and hung our heads, preparing to shield our eyes from the dust the car would kick up as she sped to the safety of her mother's house, childless and free. To our surprise she began repacking the luggage into the back seat.  Obviously, she was so mad she was going to leave us abandoned without so much as a change of clothes.  She stacked the suitcases up in the backseat and when she was finished she fumed, "Get. In." She had built for us a kind of backseat Berlin Wall, I sitting on one side of the seat to ceiling stack and he on the other. We couldn't see each other, couldn't communicate, and we certainly weren't going to try to chat with my other at this point.  I can remember being immediately allied with my brother and we attempted to "drill" holes in the luggage so we could see each other once again. Now that I'm a mother myself, I am inspired by this creativity in problem solving and I cringe to think of how annoyed she must have been to go though this spectacle.  But regardless, it is probably one of the funniest traveling memories I have.

I watch my oldest sit in the backseat and chatter away to us actively looking out the window.  She is absorbing the sights, the climate difference, the change in the architecture, and landscape.  These will become for her actual memories and not just another environment in which to watch a movie.  I don't want to seem high and mighty here, and believe me there are plenty of frustrating moments. The words, "You'll know when we're there because we will be out of the car." or, "Ok! it's a quiet ride now!" are said, but it's worth it.  We're not crazy though, so we do have a strategy that will hopefully prevent road-side child abandonment. We break up the trip with children's museums and Grandmas house.  My mother lives in New Jersey so on the way to her house we stop at Kidcity in Middletown Connecticut.  I think this one is my favorite.  The artists they have working there are extremely talented and everything, and I mean every detail is thought out.  The colors and imagination of the place are so vibrant.  If you are anywhere near this museum I highly recommend it. 

Here is an example of the thoroughness of the designing.  These three pigs have air coming up though them so, as you can see, the yellow balls float in mid air above the piggies' backs.  However, if you were to hold them in (and really what kid wouldn't) they shoot up when you let go hitting...ready?...little drums set in the ceiling!!

  Look, even the lights look like apples in the tree!  And the mama pig on the right is also a seat, and don't think that you can't climb in the box and barrel and go though them like a tunnel, 'casue you can!
This is in the fishery, there is a big ship and a harbor and all kinds of conveyor belts and pulleys and wheels to mess around with to get the fish allover the place. 
Notice they both have the same concentrated look on their faces...also notice the water painted on the floor.
See how she has the fish sorted by color and also into the basket that most resembles that color?  That's no accident, she is a sorting sort of kid, all business. 

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