We live near and are members of the largest children's museum in the world (who knew? I guess there really is more than corn in Indiana). We visit at least a couple of times a month. The Nugget loves it, and I can motivate her to do almost anything as long as she knows that it will be followed by a trip to "the newseum".
Once a month, the newseum has a special event for members where kids can come and play late on Friday nights. I recently decided to take advantage of this evening. The Nugget and I spend every other Friday on a date alone due to The Mister's work schedule and I thought this sounded like a fun one. The Nugget can act like a wild child all she wants, Mommy can sit back and relax and coast until bed time.
The first sign I had that this late night at the newseum would not be a total success was when I arrived to pick The Nugget up from daycare. She was taking a nap. I know I have celebrated this fact in the past, but that was because it was a one-time thing. Lately, all of the summer fun has led to nearly daily naps at daycare. Which leads to a grouchy, half-awake child at pick up. One who has not completed her nap in full. One who will not want to go to bed at a normal time. One who will make sure that the full level of her discontent is registered with mommy.
I know that many of you are already clucking your tongues at me and wondering why I didn't just give up on the idea of the newseum once I saw the state she was in. I thought about it. However, I pick her up around 4:00PM. The newseum was going to be open until 9:00PM. I figured if I took her straight there we would be headed for a certain meltdown. However, if we went home and had a little down time, watched some cartoons, maybe we could do it. In fact, she was perking up after about an hour of snacks and cartoons, so I decided to press on.
She was absolutely out of her mind with excitement about going to the newseum. I figured we would enjoy an hour or two at the newseum and then head for a Nice Dinner Out (with a toddler, this equates to something easy, fast and in a place that is pretty clean). I brought along some snacks to eat in between exhibits to hold us over until supper time. I had clean diapers, wipes and a cup of nice, cold water. I was fully prepared for a Friday night adventure.
We started out by climbing the big, purple stairs up to the Dora exhibit. This exhbit is kind of like being at a techno club; there is loud, thumping music, lots of bright colors and there are people moving in every direction. It is extremely nerve racking, but The Nugget loves it. She and Dora are totally simpatico. We tend to spend most of our time here these days. I am okay with that - I love that she loves it.
After Dora, we stopped for a snack of peanut butter crackers and water. The Nugget ate a couple of crackers but was so excited that I could hardly wrangle her to eat any more. So we were on to the Barbie exhibit. Funny, but the Barbie exhibit is similar to a techno club, too. Loud, thumping music. Bright lights. People everywhere. In addition, there is a fashion runway. The Nugget danced. She posed. She played with dolls and drew dresses and had a fine old time.
At this point, we decided to go to the top floor. This is where THE CAROUSEL is located. In what I cannot believe is an unrelated twist of fate, The Nugget pronounces the word carousel as "kill youself". The first time I heard her say this, I totally panicked thinking that somehow she had picked up the phrase "kill yourself". Of course, she has decided that she hates this carousel with a passion and I haven't been able to get her to ride it for about a year. In fact, she gets mad if we even get off on the floor where it's located for fear that I am going to force her to ride the "kill youself". Which, of course, I am not. Though I enjoy the ride, this particular carousel has the volume turned up so loud that I can hardly stand to be near it either. There is, however, a really cool play area right next to it.
Our downhill slide started in the maze of mirrors next to the carousel. We were wandering along, enjoying looking at the mirrors and the lights, when The Nugget decided to climb on a little step to look into a view-finder and promptly fell of. And hit her head on the view-finder.
My kid hates falling with a passion. Even if it doesn't really hurt, she is likely to scream in fury at the insult of the fall. But if it really hurts, too? Watch. out. And don't you even think about coming over to help. The humiliation is more than she can bear. And all of that screaming inside the confines of the mirror maze? That is more than mommy can bear.
We soldiered on, however, and soon were on to the next area where a variety of doll houses are on display. each with little steps leading up to the viewing windows. Steps designed exactly for a two year old to fall from. Which she promptly did. Cue the sreaming and the anger and the tears. Cue mommy - it's time to blow this popcicle stand. We are MELTING DOWN!
I whisked The Nugget to the elevator with promises of pushing! the! button! Down to the first floor we flew, merely an hour and a half into our big night out. Me with visions of a Nice Meal Out still dancing in my head. The Nugget with decidedly different ideas.
Once to the lobby, my attempts to wrangle her in the direction of the door set off an absolute rage. Oh. Well. Maybe we need to delay our Nice Meal. I can just try and nudge her in the direction of the food court and maybe buy a snack to tide us over until we have obtained enough calm to leave. Because we cannot eat at the newseum. It is very affordable to get an annual membership to the newseum, but it is ridiculously expensive to eat a meal there. Clearly this is how they make all of their money. So: snack, walk to car, Nice Meal Out.
Except the nudging. wasn't. working. She wanted to stay planted RIGHT WHERE SHE WAS NO MATTER WHAT. Why didn't you pick her up, you ask? I did. To which she turned into a stiff board and kicked me in the shins. At this point, I could see my Nice Meal Out slipping away. We went to set in time out while she raged and while I just prayed to survive the rest of the trip at this point.
Once time out was over, I carried her to the food court. Because of it being a special night, only a few of the food stations were available. I dropped any hopes of health food and went straight to burgers and fries as I knew this would buy some calm. I ordered a cheeseburger basket. After much waiting (and more tears), the waitress turned around and said, "just a cheeseburger, right?"
"No. No I want fries with that."
Turns back to station. Turns around with a plain hamburger. "Just a hamburger and fries, right?"
My internal dialogue went something like this: No. NO YOU MORON! A CHEESEBURGER. AND FRIES. RIGHT THE EFF NOW BEFORE THIS KID MELTS ALL OF OUR FACES OFF WITH HER RED-HOT RAGE.
My external dialogue was a bit more socially appropriate: "A cheeseburger, please." Weak attempt at a smile.
Finally I am able to hand The Nugget a couple of fries while we go to wait in line to pay. I get her an apple juice and a pack of cookies, too (both of which are rare treats). In total, we get one cheeseburger and fries to share, two drinks and one small pack of cookies. Cost for these treats? Eleventy billion dollars.
Ability of the newseum to manipulate parents into buying the overpriced food in order to squash a nearly guaranteed tantrum at the end of a long day? Priceless.
You win this round, newseum. You win.