You know how you plan something with your kids and you have the best intentions at heart? You envision it, and in your mind's eye it's lovely. Everyone is happy and having fun; no one is bickering; birds are chirping and flowers are blooming. In that dark and scary place in the back of your mind (ahem, where your logic lives) you know this ridiculous perfection isn't how it works, and yet you always go there.
And I know better. I've fallen victim to this optimistic lunacy
two or three hundred times once or twice and yet when I traveled to Washington D.C. with the family last week I had only visions of enlightened conversation and moments of shared knowledge dancing in my head.
I was especially thrilled because I was planning to take the kids to the National Gallery of Art. Now, I am not knowledgeable about art on any level but I love it, and I thought my enthusiasm and my two semesters of art history in my undergraduate days would carry us through. We entered the gallery and were immediately confronted by a huge fountain with a nude male at the top. Did I mention he was naked? Right about now the imaginary flowers that bloom in my fantasies began to wilt, but I was oblivious. The girls (mostly the 6-year-olds) giggled a little but were
somewhat placated by my explanation of the artist's reverence for the nude form.
We quickly struck off into the gallery anxious to distract the still-snickering 6 year-olds. Unfortunately, we maneuvered ourselves smack dab into the middle of a whole hallway full of mostly naked bronze sculpture. Shazam! There were naked men... naked women... but most of all we found the naked babies. I think the angel babies are typically called cherubs, but at this point the educational portion of the tour was over and I was in damage control mode.
I'm telling you, if I could somehow harness the investigative speed and ferocity with which immature children can find the one nude cherub/baby in a painting with at least 1000 images, I could cure cancer... Without fail we'd enter a new room and I'd start counting down from 10... and before I'd hit zero the giggles would start... It was mostly the little ones, but stupidity is contagious.
And I guess the stupidity really was contagious. Those kids had themselves whipped into such a state over these dang-blasted cherubs that they were practically doubled over. And you know what? After a few minutes, I started laughing, too. I tried to navigate the herd away from the cherubs but it didn't work. They were E-V-E-R-Y-W-H-E-R-E.
Anyway, this was the funniest thing my kids have seen in their entire lives:
As they stood snickering in front of the exhibit one child asked if that was the baby's penis. I grumpily said, "Of course it is. You know it is. Why do you even have to ask?" To which she replied, "because it looks like a little pickle." I, of course, had no reply (other than the silent prayer for strength that I offered up -- because I almost snorted like a pig when she made that comment about the little pickle).
At this point we just needed to leave before we made complete idiots of ourselves. Oh wait... too late for that. The kids were contained, but barely. I know their limits and we were testing them sorely. We made a mad dash to Rodin (the artist I most wanted to see), and I'll tell you what we did there.... tomorrow.Until then, I've had the pleasure of becoming acquainted with a real sculptor through the blogosphere. She's just completed a showing of her work and is looking to do a series of 12 sculptures inspired by blogging. I am going to be participating (if she still wants me after that dill pickle stupidity). Check out her blog to get all the details, and join me.