I apologize for the lack of posts; it’s not for lack of life. With the beans out of school, Camp Stephanie has been open. Between attempts at teaching them the story of Passover (Wait, you went to Jewish pre-pre-K and pre-K, and still none of this sounds familiar?), and succumbing to Disney’s the Price of Egypt (thank you Netflix), I’ve been living in scheduled play dates and plans. May I just say, and this surprises me mostly, that I really love time alone with my children. I’ve never been someone who inherently enjoys children, especially babies–I’m still not a fan. But when it’s your own children, of course, it’s some version of narcissism, and you can delight in learning their ways, however different from your own.
Magic Marker (not paint!) paper plate creation by way of motorized Lego Spin Art
Yesterday, we visited my favorite place in the world: the library. Any library or book store thrills me–though I’m rarely a fan of the stacks types of libraries, which I consider to be akin to shopping at Filene’s basement. A disorganized free-for-all, which claims to be organized, no. I prefer featured tables and curated selections featuring local writers or books displayed by theme. Our purpose for going to the library was to pick up museum passes to a local art museum in Huntington, where beside many of the paintings are a list of questions aimed toward children. With a focus on theme or style, an easy way of teaching art through discussion vs. lecture. Of course, while we picked up the passes, the beans browsed, which lead to reading and securing more books.
Knowing that I’d be taking them to the MoMa today, to see Jasper Johns and Paul Gauguin, I read them books about each artist’s life, asking them questions about the placement of horizon lines, and how the distance on the page made objects seem nearer or farther away.
Is it a pain in the ass to bring both children to the city, to load up my bag with snacks and waters, and drawing pencils and a pad, to lecture them about manners and how it’s a privilege to be taken to do such things, to find and pay for parking, to figure out lunch in advance (which I’ll never do)? Yes. It’s annoying. But, it’s not the first line I draw. Instead, I print out scavenger hunts of the MoMa and talk to them about how they’ll get to bring their own headphones, how there’s an audio tour. It helps having already talked to them about some of the artists we’ll see today. Reminding them how to read a wall plaque, to see the origin line, the title, the artist, the medium, etc. While I very much enjoy enriching our lives with art, I remind them that it’s not just about the art.
Look at all the jobs at a museum (after you pay attention to all the people working there, I’d like you to share which job you find most exciting). Observe the floors and ceilings, where the benches are placed, the white space between each offering, and look at the windows; how does the light work in a museum? What about the architecture, what about the visitors? How do they behave? What languages do you hear? Is everyone speaking English? Do people spend the same amount of time in front of each piece? Do you enjoy it up close or from across the room? I want them to view the world as observers, to pay attention to the side lines, not just the art behind frames.
Gauguin wasn’t happy until he searched out “the other,” disappointed that the people of Tahiti were mostly French, he wasn’t satisfied with his work until he worked his way into the jungle, creating worlds from his imagination combined with the Tahitian landscape. I think the fault in much of our writing (or even living) is trying to discover something “other,” different enough from our own experiences and familiarities, something new, worthy of commentary. Instead, I think it takes greater discipline to breathe new life into our worn-in patterns, to broaden our view and tell the story we know through eyes that are paying attention to the side lines, not just the big moments worthy of frames.
After the library, we went to a Lego activity center for two hours where they built motorized windmills and merry-go-rounds, creating Lego spin art and racing Lego cars down a ramp. Then, we made our way to the climbing walls at our gym, where they met up with friends and released some energy by literally climbing up the walls. Now, onward, off to the Museum of Modern Art with MoMa Mama and her magical scavenger hunt!