By Jennifer Ehrlich, Globe staff
If you’ve visited any Boston-area museums this week that might remotely appeal to children, then you already know what I am going to tell you. They have been a nightmare.
I know, I know, on a philosophical level, the extreme crowding is a good thing … people paying to see Boston’s amazing museums, children educated, family togetherness, and a day away from video games. But if you were one of the parents stuck in the lines of hundreds of people at, say, the Museum of Science earlier this week, then you were wishing you were at home with the kids planted in front of a video. If you are honest, that is.
On Monday morning, the lines outside full of sour, exhausted couples and whining children, were the preview. Inside, hoards scrambled over every available exhibit – even some of the slightly boring ones. You would have thought they were giving something away inside the Butterfly Garden – college tuition coupons? We were looking forward to seeing the fabulous new frog exhibit - only to be elbowed aside by packs of camera- and cellphone-carrying people taking pictures and videos of the frogs behind glass, then lingering to compare their work.
Normally, I have a way around this problem. I arrive early – ideally before the museum opens. My toddler is an early riser so it’s no real hardship. But vacation week confounds even early risers. The scene I am describing above took place at 9:30 a.m. Monday, 30 minutes after the museum opened.
During the last winter vacation, my neighbor and I ventured out to the Discovery Museum in Acton that had been so highly praised by all our friends. We arrived before it opened. There was already a line of miserable people -- and a 45-minute wait. The previous holiday we had braved the crowds at the Children's Museum, trying to keep the kids away from the water, while holding our place in the line of 200 that had formed before opening. You’re thinking I should have learned my lesson, right?
But what lesson? Don't go anywhere?
Therein lies the problem of living in big cities. At the exact time you want to go somewhere logical, say a museum on school vacation, or a beach on a sunny day ... that's the exact time every other family wants to go, too.
Anyone have any clever ways around this? Or maybe you've been luckier this week, with stellar experiences at museums? Thoughts?
about the authors
Lylah M. Alphonse is a member of the Boston Globe Magazine staff and mom and stepmom to five kids ranging in age from toddler to teen. In addition to writing for Child Caring, she also writes about juggling a full-time career and parenthood at The 36-Hour Day, and about everything else at Write. Edit. Repeat. When she's not glued to the computer or solving a kid-related crisis, she's in the kitchen or, occasionally, asleep.
Barbara F. Meltz is a freelance writer, parenting consultant and author of "Put Yourself in Their Shoes; Understanding How Your Children See the World." A former Globe staff writer, she wrote the weekly "Child Caring" column for 19 years. That column earned her many awards, including the 2008 American Psychological Association Print Excellence award. Barbara is available as a speaker for parent groups.
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