Last week we went to the Children’s Museum of Phoenix. We’ve been there a handful of times this year, since my parents generously gifted us an annual pass for Christmas, and this was probably my favorite visit yet.
Since there were relatively few people there (a weekday afternoon near the beginning of the school year is hands down the best time to go to avoid crowds) the girls were able to play with absolutely everything they wanted. No taking turns or fighting other kids for a spot in line…just tons of creative free play for a few hours.
And since they were happily occupied–and most of the benches were not–I was able to sit my huge aching pregnant self down and watch with minimal interference. (Margot needed help climbing things a couple times.)
And since I could sit by myself, mostly uninterrupted by screaming children, I was able get a good look at all the little details that make the CMP so great.
After visiting the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis last year, almost anything else is going to look kind of pitiful. It’s huge and beautiful and full of stunning exhibits that Mila still talks about. Dinosaurs? Race cars? Transformers? A carousel? There’s just no comparison.
But what struck me last week was that my kids were tremendously happy making pizzas out of scraps of felt and sticking sparkles on paper rockets. Every exhibit at CMP features recycled or found or very inexpensive unassuming objects: old bottles and boxes in the pretend grocery store, foam ball ice cream cones, the pool noodle forest, ball runs made of old two-liter bottles, and sanded pieces of lumber as building blocks.
The installation art is the same way: sculptures made entirely of spoons, a wall of CDs all strung together, plastered and spray-painted shoes. It’s quirky and kind of ghetto, I’ll admit it, but you can see how much creativity was involved in putting this place together. It’s more than a little bit charming.
It’s easy for me to get caught up in judging and comparing the opportunities my kids have with those available to children in other parts of the country or the world. But what I realized last week is that my kids don’t care. They don’t fret that there are bigger and fancier adventures to be had; they’re happy to run and laugh and play and explore wherever we go. And sometimes the simplest games and outings wind up being the most memorable.
I need to remember to be more like them. Stop wasting my happiness thinking about what we could be doing and spend my energy soaking in the joys of what we can do…by just doing it. Because goodness, we have such fun!