It really should be called the Judgement Museum.
It’s very subtle.
Quiet looks and silent glares. Forced smiles and controlled tones.
I can’t think of another place that is quite as stress-filled as a Children’s Museum.
It’s well masked by all the gleeful chatter and banter of kids exploring, running, playing and squealing.
But behind every excited child is a tense mom with clenched fists.
The tension of the unknown ….
Will my kid share?
Will my child have a tantrum?
Will my child listen to me?
And there’s hope.
Maybe just maybe my child will be that magical kid-from-the-books who will not shove and will not push and will remember to share. The one who will quietly wait his/her turn in line and follow directions.
Oh, there’s so much unknown.
And here’s the thing. The unknowing child is full of joy and optimism, totally unaware of his/her watching and praying parent.
The reality is that in public children’s venues, our motherhood report card is being blasted for all to see.
And reality also is that 98% of us mere mortal mothers are blessed with the kids who are the like of imperfection. The ones who need to be constantly taught and reminded about sharing and caring and pushing and shoving.
The very small 2% that are blessed with those kid-from-the-books children – those are the very worst to meet at a children’s museum. Truthfully, they should have museums of their own, so we don’t have to interact.
Another interesting phenomana of a Children’s Museum is seeing all the parenting books coming to life and butting heads in one location.
The Whole-Brain Child, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, How to Talk so Kids Will Listen, Raising an Adult, Peaceful Parent Happy Kid …. and a bit of Brenee Brown thrown in for good measure, as mothers desperately try to get all the wisdom and methodology of the books to work in real life.
Unfortunately, chances are that it will not work … because that’s real life. Our kids didn’t read the books and they don’t necessarily know the right answers. They don’t know their part in the script. Reading the books are so invigorating and empowering. And then when tried and tested in public…not quite as empowering.
So there I sit with mothers from all walks of life, trying to keep busy at the Children’s Museum. I notice some moms come prepared with a friend for the mom and a friend for the kid. Some moms get to be the friend of the kid, which is the only reason I can think of as to why a grown adult would want to be squished up at the little kids table enjoying a gourmet lunch of plastic food.
And some moms…those moms that everyone talks about… those guilty of the ultimate crime … are checking their phones.
And I admit.
Guilty as charged.
Yup, that’s life too.
No one is hurt, no one is neglected and no one is insulted.
It’s an adult acting like an adult.
We check our phones.
Scroll through our to-do list.
Reply to emails that are waiting for answers.
Send a few texts.
Make an order at Target.
Check the status of an Amazon order.
The kids are still all happy. Not a single child is bothered.
But the other moms are watching. Out of the corner of their eyes. Trying to be discreet but not succeeding.
As my kids munch on their snack of non-organic white flour pretzels, I try not to notice the snack bag of the kid sitting on the same bench. The only part I can see is where it says Fair Trade and Non GMO… and that’s enough for me. I can feel the shock and horror.
And then there’s always one mom who reports.
Reports to you that your kids are doing something they shouldn’t. Or being a little too rowdy.
Thanks fellow mom. I’m feeling the kindness.
My 2 year old comes to tell me he really wants a shopping cart. Those mini adorable 2-year-old-sized ones. I see a kid standing near his cart, busy with something else. I take my 2 year old by the hand (yes, I first put away my phone) and ask little fellow toddler if he’s done with his turn. His mama-bear mother quickly grabs the cart, and informs me in no uncertain terms, “No, he’s still playing with it.”
Little toddler looks at me with a grin and says, “Here, I’m done, you can have it,” pushing it towards my 2 year old.
Who to believe, the mother or the toddler? Maybe the mother wanted to play with it? Maybe she hasn’t finished reading the chapter on sharing…?
Children’s Museums are a funny place. They make mothers act funny.
And there are kids who don’t share.
And kids who have tantrums.
Sure, there are so many differences between our children. Some are advanced, some are delayed. They have different likes and dislikes. Different moods and different temperaments. But us moms, there’s so much that unites us.
Behind the nerves, tension and tight smiles of every mother is just a worn out and sleep deprived human, who worries about her child and is trying her very best and just wants her kid to succeed. That’s it.
So why are we always judging each other?