Saturday, March 10, 2012

"So many artists and so much art..."

I love my children.  And I love museums.  And I even love museums with my children.  But it is a special category of recreation.  I can enthusiastically steer children, remind about not touching, and give little tidbits of knowledge on artists for several hours...until suddenly, it is TIME.TO.GO.  

We went to museums yesterday, the three kids and me. They wanted to see the Mummy exhibit at the VMFA, and then we went to the Historical Museum to see an archaeology exhibit for Jack.

I was feeling badly for Jack yesterday, as I could tell there was so much he wanted to see and read and do, but the age-span just didn't allow him to linger the way he wanted.  He was fascinated by the Russian arts room, and the Fabergé eggs.  The very same room where Andrew was bouncing on the lovely settee in the middle of the room. On his knees, admittedly.  But still bouncing.

I leaned down and whispered to Jack (as we left the Russian arts to find a bathroom for Simone): "I promise we'll come back, just you and me."   And when I saw his face light up, I knew I would make sure it was soon.

I took the boys to W&M SEP all morning today and brought Simone with me, so Steve could do his work all day in peace.  We got home around 3, and then I took Jack out to the VMFA.

These things do not happen enough. 

Watching Jack navigate the museum, just the two of us, might be one of the best experiences of my entire life.  His grown-up little self, analyzing the paintings: "Cezanne seems like he was rushed."  Telling me things I didn't know: "Did you know prehistoric horses were about the same size as this horse statue?"  

And the Fabergé room.  The Russian art.  I told him about the Romanovs and Rasputin.  We talked about why someone would make a spoon so intricate and fancy, if it's just for eating.  We probably spent about 45 minutes in that small room.  He looked at every display, asked questions and pointed things out. 

He noticed things I wouldn't have noticed, and I loved being with my son.

I talk (and think) about this often, about how a child emerges from you - and it can fool you into thinking that their personhood is somehow connected to you.  That you control or determine who they are...what they love and who they are...either through prodding or DNA or whatever.  

But the more I watch my children, the more I feel like a spectator in the greatest show I have ever seen.  Yes, I try to do things like support their passions and answer their questions and work really hard to help them become the person they're supposed to be.  

The most important elements, though, are so completely disconnected from anything I could have imagined for him.  Jack loves Russian and archaeology and dinosaurs and engineering things.  Andrew and his feisty, philosophical, superhero self.  Simone's almost ridiculous level of Francophilia, for one so young.  Today, she bit her muffin into the shape of the Eiffel tower.

I love watching them.  I love being with them.  I love being with them one-on-one, so the full measure of who they are can come out.  I can follow Jack around a museum, seeing what he wants to see.  Watching him read all the plaques, soaking it all in.

I am deeply, deeply curious about the man he is going to become.  I feel like I can see these glimpses of it sometimes, in the way he walks or talks or carries himself.  Sometimes, I'm stunned when I realize how truly small he really is.  There is so.much.person in there.

As we were leaving, he said to me: "You know what my favorite thing is about a museum, Mom?  It's that there are so many artists and so much art, and it shows me that there's a lot of ways to do great things.  You can just be yourself.  And if someone doesn't like it, it's just important that you like what you made."

Oh my goodness.  I love children. I love getting to be a part of this mystical journey of personhood forming.

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