Friday, February 29, 2008

An Embarrassment of Riches

Today was very cold again, too cold to play outside. I decided it would be a good day to hit the Manhattan Children's Museum since it is too mobbed on the weekends. I really was just looking for a place for Henry to burn of some energy without destroying our apartment.

While on the subway, I was mapping our best route to get there. Should we get off at this particular stop and switch trains or another stop and walk...I decided to get off at the 81st Street stop and walk, which happens to be the station for the Museum of Natural History. Eureka, change in plans. We could just go there. I hadn't brought him there since his birthday and he is a much better walker now.

We headed straight to the fourth floor to see the Dinosaur exhibits which are my favorites. We practiced roaring at the T-Rex and the Stegosauras and Henry ran up and down the ramps and stairs. He also pretended to read all of the signs beneath each exhibit. He would run his finger along the board and then say some words like he was reading.

After that we made a beeline to the Gems and Minerals exhibit to look at all of the fancy rocks. That part was fun, there was a big section where he could crawl and everything was at his eye level. He would go back and forth between each mineral like he was really comparing them.

By that point we were wiped and ready to go home. It struck me how unbelievably lucky we are to live where we do. Certainly there are some sacrifices made to live in a major city with a small child. But what a luxury to make a split second decision and hit one of the world's premier museums. For just a few hours. Not to have to plan ahead, make a huge production out of it, follow some boring tour guide after being jammed on a hot, lurching schoolbus for two hours. We could just buzz here and there, knowing that it would all be there again tomorrow if we wanted to go back.

I think we will really be able to make learning come alive for him, if that is not too hokey to say. Instead of looking at famous art work on slides we can see it in person. Instead of listening to a recording of Handel's Messiah at Christmas we can hear an orchestra perform it live. Instead of eating some tasteless rendition of Indian food that I make at home we can hop the subway to Jackson Heights and eat food made by an actual person from India. Thinking of all of the fun things we will be able to do with Henry makes me love New York City more than ever.

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