Monday, June 12, 2006

A Trip to the Museum, and Some Socio-Cultural Non-Education

Last Wednesday, the children went to the Museum of Nature with Haley. We all headed down there on the bus together, then I departed for Errands to Run. (Errands! Without toddlers in tow! How exciting!! The bank, the post office, the hardware store await! Woo-hoo! And then a quiet coffee. Imagine the bliss.) By all accounts, they had a great time. As is often the case with the tots, the parts most entertaining for the adult in charge were not the educational focal points of the trip. The children had enjoyed their trip - and they were given BUTTONS!! With this engineer dino guy on them!!! They had left the museum, and crossed the street when Darcy announced his need to pee. What else can they do? Back they go. Back into the museum, up the steps, into the bathroom. Everyone into the large wheelchair-accessible stall. Darcy does his bit, but, now that we're in here, eveyone may as well have a turn, or you know what'll happen, don't you? They'll all be across the street and the next one will have to PEE, NOW!! As George pees, Zach wonders what that thing on the wall is. "That's a thing for grown-up women," Haley explains, factually if uninformatively. "Yadies?" - Zach. "Just for grown-ups?" - Darcy. "Yes. Just for grown-up ladies." Arthur, of course, wants to know how it works. "Well, you put your money in here, and turn this knob." More non-information disguised as a straight answer. It makes a mother proud, truly it does. You realize this is not squeamishness on either of our parts, only the belief that this stuff should generally come from the parents when possible. Also a disinclination to start running sex ed. classes for toddlers in the museum toilets. We have a bus to catch. Besides, Arthur is perfectly satisfied with this answer. Turning a knob is more than adequate compensation for such coinage as is required. He has no trouble with this. Who wouldn't pay to turn a knob? Except..."It's only just for ladies?" Arthur's voice is tinged with a mixture of incredulity and disapproval. Why are the men are being ripped off? Completely unjust discrimination. (I know more than a few women who might agree with him on this, as it happens.) But that's okay. Next trip to a public washroom, the daddies can explain all about the condom-dispensers! See how helpful outings are for the social education of one's children?? My only regret is I'm unlikely to be there when it happens. George, meantime, is facing the bowl, his back to the focus of interest. "What's only for grown-up ladies?" He turns to look - and a glistening arc turns with him. "ACK! George! Don't turn around! Get that pee in the toilet." Haley's agitated directions bounce off the tiled walls. Further production lands in the bowl. Phew. Mission accomplished, the troop out. Past the security guard stationed at the entrance to the washroom, a security guard who meets Haley's eye with an amused grin, a security guard who has quite obviously, heard every word. Tots are such fun!


Anonymous Jamie said...

Oh, brother. I definitely could not handle running a daycare business. Best to cross that career option off my list right now. ;-)

6/12/2006 08:38:00 a.m.  
Blogger Anne V said...

Taking a group of toddlers to the museum? Very brave. I took just one to the museum on Friday and he managed to fall off the lake monster in such a dramatic way that all the mothers in the room did the universal horrified intake of breath. At least he was ok and it was a play area and not a priceless display with a guard on duty.

6/12/2006 08:48:00 a.m.  
Blogger Andie D. said...

I was laughing out LOUD reading this post! And hell, I'M proud of Haley reading how well she handled that. I have an easier time talking to my son about everything except tampons. I somehow can't quite bring myself to explain the whole need for them. Ack. Wish there wasn't a need.

Glad for you that you got a much needed break. I am a SAHM of two, not quite the same, but boy do I ever value running errands and taking a breath without kids. It's good to recharge.

And I'm still laughing at this post!

6/12/2006 09:24:00 a.m.  
Blogger Kristen said...

Hahaha, bathroom conversations with toddlers are so interesting - potentially awkward for us, but so informative to them!

6/12/2006 10:02:00 a.m.  
Anonymous kerry said...

LOL! that is totally priceless!

6/12/2006 03:10:00 p.m.  
Blogger Peter said...

Girls get to put money in a machine and turn a knob. I might forget what I am doing to check that out.

6/12/2006 03:34:00 p.m.  
Blogger Juggling Mother said...

My girls regularly follow me into the bathroom to watch me pee. I generally don't have a problem with this, especially as I'm trying to toilet train LMB so she needs to see what to do. But having her walk in on me last week in the middle of changing a tampon & ask "what are you doing mummy? why are you doing that mummy? can I try mummy?" was a bit much & I completely failed to come up with an educational answer!

i know I'm going to have to tackle it sometime, but perhaps 2 is a bit young:-)

6/12/2006 04:13:00 p.m.  
Blogger kittenpie said...

I love Arthur, I do. My answer there would have been that yes, just for ladies because it's in the ladies bathroom. Perhaps there is something for men in the men's bathroom, but since I'm not a man, I'm not sure what's in there! Yes, sometimes the indirect can be better than getting into the details, especially when a) there isn't the time or b) it's so many years away as to be ridiculous.

6/12/2006 04:33:00 p.m.  
Anonymous the weirdgirl said...

Oh! I just ckoked on my tea! It would be a funny enough conversation with only one child, but the picture of several tots in a bathroom stall, all pointing and questioning... too funny!

6/12/2006 06:19:00 p.m.  
Anonymous BeckaJo said...

Someday, when young George is in college, he will hear those same words and experience a moment of deja vu.

6/12/2006 08:08:00 p.m.  
Blogger kimmyk said...

Good job Haley!

Wonder if she had to explain tampons to them also?

Two explinations in one day? Oh that would be too much.

6/12/2006 08:18:00 p.m.  
Blogger Granny said...

I think you just outdid yourself. Or Haley did.

6/13/2006 12:14:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Oh my gosh! This is such, such, such a cuuuuute story! Love it, gotta share with my mommy pals! I can just imagine all these kids in one big handicapped stall, other women waiting in line and overhearing the conversation going on within. It's like a class on the finer things of a women's restroom!!! Thanks for sharing this one - it's golden, just like George's arc! (teehee!)

6/13/2006 12:21:00 a.m.  
Blogger Mary P. said...

Jamie: It's not for everyone! I'm curious. What aspect of this story is the deciding factor for you?

AnneV: That "universal horrified intake of breath" is grossly overused, in my experience. Still, it's not fun, since it's generally followed by the "universal frown of disapproval". I suppose one could say that with five toddlers, you're five times as likely to experience a tumble, but not really. Generally, no matter how many kids you have, it's always the same one who takes the fall!

AndieD: I'm of two minds about this. It's far sooner than they're going to need the information, but with boys in particular, I often feel I may as well start getting this information across early, before it becomes even more awkward.

Right now, any awkwardness only comes from the adult. In a few years, the boy will be mortified by the topic, and yet, it's relevant to him, too, because, unless he's gay, he'll probably have a real, live, menstruating woman in his life at some point. MY men aren't allowed to be squeamish sissies about this stuff. :-)

Kristen: Learning happens all the time, and there is all sorts of information to be gleaned in a public washroom. All sorts.

Kerry: Hello, and welcome! Thank you.

Peter: Just try not to spray somone's ankles while you're at it, okay?

MrsA: Well, that's the thing. It's way too soon for it to be relevant, and yet you don't want them thinking they've done something wrong by asking. Sometimes children are alarmed - mummy's bleeding, she must be hurt! In which case, one is reassuring. "No, no. It's just something that happens to grown-up women. It doesn't hurt." (Which may be a lie, but you know what I mean!)

If they're not alarmed, I think it's all right to put them off for a bit, by giving them some simple facts but not the whole deal. I've used the "it's something women use to keep them clean". Which, unfortunately, contributes to the notion that women are unclean in some way, but it is at any rate factual.

Kittenpie: Ooo, aren't you devious? Very slick.

I generally lean in the direction of always answering the question, but, as I indicated to Mrs A, above, in very small bits. Most often, there is no follow-up question, probably because the child just isn't that interested; if there are any follow-ups, though, I answer them, too. I don't want kids thinking that certain subjects are taboo. I will sometimes say that a certain question is one I will answer when they're older, but topics like menstruation and anatomy aren't the ones I defer.

Weirdgirl: With the questions bouncing around off the tiled walls, so that anyone close to the door in the main lobby can hear? Fun, fun, fun!!

Beckajo: George? I'm trying to picture it. George is currently such a cautious and careful Rules Guy that it's hard to imagine him cutting loose like that. But he is only four. Who knows???

Kimmyk: No. It was the tampon-dispenser they were discussing, of course, but she managed to avoid the topic of what was inside that machine entirely. Clever girl.

Granny: Haley, I'd say. She told me this story when she returned, knowing, I'm sure that it would make excellent blog fodder. Which it did!

Jennifer: Glad you liked it. Keeping a blog on the tots is so easy. They constantly feed you the material. The only trick is writing it down so the reader can be there and get the joke, too. I love it!

6/13/2006 07:35:00 a.m.  
Anonymous Jamie said...

Mary--don't take me too seriously. I like kids, but I just wouldn't be very good at reacting on the spot to sticky questions from a whole group of toddlers. I'd probably make them think I was hiding something, which would only make them ask more questions!

And...I would probably worry constantly about what the parents would approve of or not approve of. Most of your parents seem to be pretty good, but you never know when a parent might get upset over something totally trivial.

6/13/2006 12:28:00 p.m.  
Blogger Ron said...

I randomly ran across you blog today and laughed out loud as I read. Thank you for sharing your adventures. They are wonderful. Peace.

6/13/2006 12:46:00 p.m.  
Blogger princessleah said...

My 9 year old daughter recently looked at the Napkin Dispenser and asked, "Who'd pay 50 cents for a napkin...just go to the counter and get them for free....

6/14/2006 04:44:00 p.m.  
Blogger Haley said...

I should clarify that we were in one of the larger handicapped stalls. I can only imagine trying to manage them all in a toilet stall!!

It was a fun day. They're a fun group of kids to go out with.

6/14/2006 11:27:00 p.m.  

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