I have always been eager to revisit some of my favorite childhood memories with my children, so when some of my friends had children before me, I relished the opportunities to try these activities with them first. I remember a few fun trips to the Please Touch Museum, where I got to embrace my goofy side and show the kids the fun side of medicine in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia exhibit. While I had the fortunate role of providing comic relief on these trips, I failed to appreciate how hard the moms were working to keep their children safe, happy, and relatively clean. It wouldn’t be until years later when I decided to take my own son that I learned this and within minutes of arriving I could already see how challenging this was and that I was no longer a spectator enjoying the ride.
If you have not been there yourself, the Please Touch Museum is an amazing, hands-on, interactive children’s museum. It is full of so much creativity that it can easily overwhelm your senses, especially if you are a two-year old. Without stopping at the admissions desk, my son sprinted toward the transportation section, drawn by the replica of the SEPTA bus that he has desperately wanted to drive. I shouted something about my husband paying for us to the employees and trotted along behind him. Once there though, he saw that not only was there a SEPTA bus, but a race car, a van, a train, and more to explore. He ricocheted around the area, intermittently dropping to the floor and crying, from what I imagined was a state of being overwhelmed. As the morning advanced, he slowed down and enjoyed the museum more, as did I.
My first few trips to the museum were relaxing and nostalgic. I remember having time to read the plaques, gaze at the cathedral ceilings, and marvel at the creative exhibits. Returning as a parent, my attention shifted to tracking my toddler dashing through crowds, guarding his small frame as the elementary school trip swarmed the tree house, and barking “don’t put that in your mouth” more times than I would like to admit. The main difference though was the joy I felt in watching my son’s imagination grow and seeing the museum again through his eyes. It may have been more like a mad tea party than I remembered, but it was one I was happy to attend.
“You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.” -Alice