Aaron’s one stipulation about moving from New York to Texas was that we spend Augusts elsewhere. Always. The summer heat is what people talk about when they drum up downsides to living in Southern climates, and August is notoriously brutal in central Tejas. I agreed to the request, but then got a job that began on August 3rd last year, so… we moved just in time for Austin’s hottest month. Aaron was a good sport, and frankly, the heat wasn’t that bad. It was a relatively mild summer, as summers go, and flew by without fanfare. This year, however, Texans across the state have endured record highs-- temperatures well over 100 degrees—for a seemingly endless stretch since sometime in early June. Kaspar’s as active and curious as ever, too, and he’s keeping us on our toes as we scramble to keep up with his endless energy and limited attention span (I blogged about our cabin fever onset a couple of weeks ago on Parenting.com). This past Monday morning, after waking up and surveying our same-old-same-old collection of toys and crayon-embellished walls, I experienced one of those flashes of insight that only kick in when all other possibilities have been thoroughly exhausted: I remembered reading/hearing/seeing somewhere that Mondays are Baby Days at the Austin Children’s Museum.
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The official name for the nine-to-noon time slot at the museum on Mondays is Baby Bloomers; children ages 0-3 take the place by storm, with parents in tow, and (optionally) participate in the scheduled story time (9:30), sing-along (10:30), and Little Explorers Lab (11). I was impressed by the variety of ‘exhibits’ in the space—all hands-on, of course— and by how well the floor plan accommodated the throngs of super-small people that climbed and crawled along its every surface and wall. Kaspar was particularly taken with a giant train table, a fish tank, several hypnotic ball-and-chute contraptions, a life-sized cow, child-sized grocery store setup, and the interactive guest performance by some people from My Gym, a local kiddie-activity center that I plan to hit up soon. And no, I didn’t just list everything in the place—not even close. It’s a big museum, open enough to promote kids’ flow through the space, but physically structured enough to help guide them naturally through its interesting enclaves, and stave off total sensory-overload.
It’s quite the mom-scene, too, which isn’t surprising, and a pretty diverse one at that—I wasn’t the only tattooed mom in the house, and there seemed to be a pretty wide representation from a range of social strata and parenting sub-cultures; baby-wearers, bottle-feeders, bougie moms and even some dads all roamed about with an equal sense of belonging. I’d arranged in advance to meet up with one of my favorite mom-friends and her daughter so as to get some social time in myself, but would certainly feel comfortable showing up solo (well, with my trusty sidekick… truly solo would be weird) and making small-talk, and maybe some new friends.
All in all, our morning at the museum proved to be the perfect antidote to our mid-summer creative-play meltdown. It was liberating for Kaspar to tear it up in a totally toddler-friendly (and toddler-proofed) indoor space, and for me to step off the entertainment think-tank action for a solid two and a half hours; I let Kaspar lead the way, and he loved it (plus, he passed out like a frat boy after a kegger as soon as we got home. Yay, nap time). Five stars for Baby Bloomers. We’ll be back.