Thursday, February 26, 2015

4 Things to do BEFORE that Outing With Your Children

My first paying job after college (I had an internship prior) was a worker in a children's museum. I have often thought that some of my infertility had the groundwork in this work. Why, you wonder?  Simple. Often when I went home from my job I thought that I never wanted to see another child--not my adorable nieces, not a child of my own.

The museum was a great place for kids. There was a supermarket where they could "shop" and ring things up.  There was a "castle" where the kids could fight with sword and shield. There was a fire engine where the kids could climb all over, and fall off of it as well. There was a bouncy room. It was a great place.

I noticed though that the parents--were not all that great. They were so distracted--and this was before the invention of the smartphone. I didn't understand why some basic things were not done or discussed before hand.

Now that I am a parent, I realize the distraction is just a desire to think while the child is happily occupied. I also realize that you don't know what can or might happen at one of these places--so here are a few tips.

1) Put things back where they belong--even if the kids who came before didn't do the same. This is a version of the golden rule.  I'm not saying that you have to make the area sparkling--but if you came to the "supermarket" and everything was at the registers--don't say "It's the museum's job." and not do anything. It is busy and the people who work there can't be everywhere at once. Did you like seeing all the stuff at the registers? No? Then put it where it belongs and then your child can play with it.  Then after your child is done--have the child put things back.

2) Waiting has a place in any adventure.
 A lot of my parenting choices has to do with what I saw my brother and sister-in-law do. They are excellent parents. One of the most brilliant things my brother came up with was "The DisneyWorld Test". Once my nieces were old enough to ask to go to Disney, they had to pass the test. It consisted of standing in one spot for a minute without complaint. Then after one minute--they took one step forward and then had to stand in the new spot for one minute without complaint. This went on for 25-30 minutes. If they complained, they failed the test and could not take it again for a month. They were allowed to fidget, sing, and talk to dad. They were not allowed to whine. Once they passed the test, (at age 7 for my oldest niece, 8 for the younger) they went to Disney and had a great time. Anytime they saw a kid having a tantrum they wondered--how did that kid ever pass the test? Kids need to wait and take turns. It is not easy and I think for kids on the spectrum the fast passes are a godsend. But chances are they will need to wait sometime at the park--and this is a great way to teach it.

The scariest day at the museum--bar none--was when we heard this cry. There was a birthday party going on for a couple with two kids. The parents were distracted. The kids were distracted. A man--a cousin to the family--took the younger child, a little boy of about four years old, in his arms and was leaving the museum. The kid was screaming his lungs out. None of the workers there gave it a second's blink. Kids were always screaming when it was time to go. It was what the child was screaming that drove everyone into action. The child was screaming "THIS IS NOT MY DADDY!!!" The man at the front locked the front doors--and sent others around to secure the back. Someone tackled the man in question and brought the child back to his incredibly spooked parents--who hadn't noticed anything yet.  The police were called and I don't really know what happened after they took the cousin away. The parents were very glad they had taught their child this part of stranger danger, and it saved the family from disaster.

4) Make sure your child knows your names--not just Mommy and Daddy.
When kids got separated from their parents they were told to find people with red aprons--us.  We asked them what their mommy's names were. More often we got a look from the child as if we were the stupidest being on the planet.
"Mommy!" was invariably the answer.
Then we asked, "What does Daddy call Mommy." (Please note that this was the early '90's. Everything was hetero. Heather Has Two Mommies hadn't even been published yet.)
This usually got us a decent response and we could go to the PA system and call for the mommy in question. On one memorable occasion a little boy of about three was lost. We had asked his mommy's name and had gotten the "Mommy!" answer.
"What does Daddy call Mommy?"
The little boy thought about it for a moment and then smiled.
"Yo, Bitch!" was the enthusiastic response. The little crowd around the child collapsed in laughter, except for a few who were trying to figure out how to get the kid's mom on the PA system. The mother in question came to the front and after the enthusiastic reunion, we told her why we were all chuckling. She was horrified but then started to laugh. "It was one time--and he was joking!" It astonishes me that that child has probably graduated from college--and I'll bet it is still a big family story.


  1. Oh man this was funny! I think working as a teacher def put me off kids some days. It is actually so nice to just have one and not twenty!

  2. oh my gosh I love that last story! Also - REALLY good tips for The Disneyworld Test! I've got to try and remember that for a few years from now!!

    (and holy SCARY - the NOT MY DADDY story... how how how scary, but so glad there was a happy ending for that!)