Saturday, October 18, 2014
Late in my first marriage, I was a bit of an absentee father, dividing my time between workaholism and alcoholism. Not something I'm proud of, certainly nothing I set out to be, the water just kept getting gradually hotter over the course of a decade and the next thing you know there were frogs like my marriage and my relationship with my kids that were basically cooked.
In the immediate aftermath, I took my kiddos to the museums a lot.
At first, I was a bit of a deer in the headlights on the three weekends a month I had the girls. The weeknights weren't as hard, by the time I cooked dinner, took care of baths and such it was time for bed, but the weekends, well, I guess we could have sat around in front of a TV like Americans or something.
We did have TV back then, I even popped for cable eventually, though at first it seemed like an impossible luxury. I know young single people who think they're broke, but there's broke and then there's recently divorced father broke. Recently divorced, upside down in an absurd mortgage unknowingly on the brink of a real estate value meltdown, suddenly paying almost as much as that ridiculous mortgage in child support every month. I had exceptionally generous family supports and a very good job and I still wondered how the hell I was going to make it. I wonder how folks who don't have those things going for them do make it, in fact.
But TV isn't really a way to spend a weekend. Maybe when the Royals are in the playoffs and the Chiefs are playing, I can see a certain amount of binge viewing. Or when I was off work for a month and a half laid up from open heart surgery, I got caught up on five seasons of The Office on DVD. But as a general rule, I don't consider watching TV to be doing something.
So rather than sit around the house with TV blasting in messages about what our lives ought to look like, getting on each other's last nerve, I loaded my kiddos into a hand-me-down 1988 Buick I was gifted when my Dad felt insulted by the offer CarMax made him on it, and I took them out into the world. Gassing an '88 Century isn't free, so the destination we went to had to be.
Frequently that turned out to be the museums. The Nelson and the Kemper both have a suggested donation sort of admission, and the Nelson is freaking huge. I've been to the Met in New York, which the old Nelson building is a miniature of, so yes, I am aware that there are more monstrous museums out there, but you can wear out a couple of kids and yourself pretty handily at the Nelson Atkins.
See a lot of cool shit in the process, too. Especially since they opened the Bloch addition.
Anyway, over the years my kiddos got older and less game for that particular outing. But I still really like museums. Somehow, though, my kids seemed to think they outgrew them.
Em isn't a regular feature at my house on the weekends anymore since she graduated high school and enrolled in the University of Hard Knox. Mo will say no to almost anything except a garage sale store or the chance to eat a metric ton of cheese, but she's not the sort to launch into a diatribe about how boring the Kemper museum is or how impossibly huge and boring the Nelson is.
Some of that is autism, Mo doesn't really have the tools to do diatribes. But she's also a good-natured kid who will pretty much have fun in the moment almost anywhere because she can't see the value in honing her joylessness. If that's part of autism, it's a part we shouldn't try to cure.
So my weekends aren't as open as they once were, either, but I decided rather than ask and get a no, I'd just tell Mo to get in the car and off we'd go. We did both the Kemper and part of the Nelson (the Nelson is more than I can do in one day and still have fun).
I think Mo enjoyed it. Especially the hammocks outside the Kemper.
I didn't ask her to pose in front of any of the works of art she's posing in front of. I may have started this, years ago, but I think she signals that she likes something or finds it interesting by standing in front of it and gesturing like, 'Look at this!' Or sometimes, instead, she mimics the art, like making fun of the wax museum guard by assuming his pose, or sticking out her tongue alongside the enormous bust I think of as Bacchus out in front of the clay building at KCAI. I'm not sure he's supposed to be Bacchus sticking his tongue out, but that's how I've always thought of him.