Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Helicopter Parent's Paradise

I had really, really been looking forward to a beach trip on Saturday all week long.  It had been too many weeks since the last one, and I had it written on the whiteboard too, which is the same thing as etched in stone as far as we're all concerned.  But on Friday night when it started looking like the weather wasn't going to cooperate, we needed to come up with a plan b.  After a quick Google search I decided the Children's Museum in Savannah was just the thing for a rainy day.  I hoped it wouldn't be too crowded.  We hadn't been to Savannah before, and depending on how the day went, I thought maybe we could do some exploring elsewhere too.

It was a nice, scenic hour-long drive with lots of lovely marsh views, tree-lined highways and one big tall bridge over a river where the kids went "Wheeeee!" and then we were there.  The Children's Museum and the Georgia State Railroad Museum share the same space, so when we parked all we saw were trains and no sign of a children's museum.  Entry to either or both museums is through the gift shop, of course, so that's where we went to buy our tickets and find out where we were going.

Tim and I had a quick discussion as we stood in line about which tickets we ought to buy.  He was in favor of the Railroad Museum because he thought the kids would find it more interesting.  I said no way, they'd be bored out of their minds after 10 minutes of a guided tour of trains, and they'd be complaining about the heat.  He said, "Okay.."

After paying admission we were instructed to walk outside and go toward a brick building with blue beams and we'd find our way from there.  We saw the blue beams right away and headed toward them.  The building is kind of hard to describe. It obviously used to be part of a train station in some way.  It was a tall brick structure with pretty architecture and no roof.  Way down in what was maybe a basement at one point we caught glimpses of plants and umbrellas and colorful things that could maybe be for kids.  Tim said to me, "I hope we didn't just pay $40 for them to play in a park."  He suggested that maybe I could have done a little more research about this particular museum.  I walked toward the staircase which was guarded by two cheerful teenage girls who told me that yes, that open area below was the entire children's museum.  [I just looked at the website again, and I see it does say in fine print right there on the main page that it is an outdoor venue.  And the pictures have grass in them.  Oops.  Next time I won't do my research on my iPhone; I'm not too good at seeing everything on that tiny screen.]  If it rained like the weather report called for, we were all in trouble.

Initially we were very unimpressed, but after a few minutes I decided that I like the open air children's museum a lot better than the other museums I've been to in Richmond, VA, Cincinnati and Providence, RI.  That exhausted, claustrophobic feeling I got in those other places, I did not get here.  Once we'd descended down inside the bricks it got a little cooler, kind of like being in a basement.  Everything was pretty to look at in the natural light.  At one end was a garden and at another end was a maze with little activities along the way.  Along the sides of the building under the arches were little stations for building with blocks, reading books, dressing up, and who knows what else.  They climbed walls, they went down slides, they played under a mister when it got hotter, and they found the most adorable little frogs in the garden.

The one thing that annoyed Tim and me was that it was a helicopter parenting paradise.  The kids had plenty to do to engage their imaginations and keep themselves busy without Mom or Dad breathing down their necks.  And not only that, we quickly found out that the hovering was being enforced by the staff.  After Tim took Timmy to the bathroom, which was in an adjacent building, he saw that the girls at the top of the stairs were stopping kids on their way down and making sure they waited for their adults.  We could understand stopping a kid who's on their way out of the gate to the parking lot, but on the way down into a safe, enclosed space where it's clear that every inch has been approved by OSHA?  Come on, the adults should be allowed to drink coffee from the balcony and relax if they feel like it.  Now that I think of it, all children's museums are helicopter parenting paradises by design.  He should be grateful he got to witness it in open spaces with fresh air instead of the confined indoor spaces of other museums.

Tim and I spent much of our time parked near the garden (quietly) making fun of the hovering parents, but I also had to chuckle at the irony that I was hovering worse than anyone while I took pictures of our kids.
Building a "tower"
Drawing on a chalkboard inside the maze
They stopped en route to the bathroom so Timmy could find his sisters in the maze.
Wish my camera had the capability to focus on that itty-bitty frog.
"The boy took my (hard) hat," he told us.
After we'd been there about an hour-and-a-half it started to rain a little and  I took Timmy to use the potty one more time.  To my surprise, in the building that had the bathroom, there was also a big model train set.  I don't know how Tim ever pried him away from it the first time.  He was so excited, running from one side of it to another, calling out every move the trains made.  "Now it's coming out of the tunnel!"  "Now it's going under the bridge!"  And he wanted to talk about all the other details, the houses, the cars, fire trucks, etc.  
After that Tim and the girls found us, and after a few more minutes of train-watching we went outside to enjoy the picnic lunch that Tim had packed the day before for the beach.  It had stopped raining and it was pretty comfortable under the trees.  I slapped at ants on my feet and said, "Now I remember why I don't do picnics."  Then we had the kids pose for one last picture before we headed home in time for naps at 1:30.  We decided against any more exploring in the city because we were all too tired.  We'll have to plan something else to do in Savannah next time.  I don't know if we'll be back to the Children's Museum anytime soon because I know Tim didn't think it was worthwhile, but I think it was a fun way to spend half of a not-too-rainy Saturday.

No comments:

Post a Comment