July 15, 2010

Discovery Sweater

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting on a bench, knitting away at my sweater while the kids whooped it up at our local children's museum when no less than four different volunteers asked to see the progress on my sweater. Which means I spend way too much time there, knitting. I have a feeling they are starting to call me the sweater mom or something. But the truth is that my kids can play at the Discovery Museum for HOURS, and also that they don't particularly want me to be playing with them. Which is really fine by me.

I love my kids, and I love spending time with them, obviously, I've been doing it full time for the past 8 years. But its so fun to watch them playing on their own. Although, in reality, they are never alone. They have an uncanny knack, both of them, for instantly making friends in any old crowd. I guess it's not really uncanny, I was kind of like that as a kid, but they are ever more find-a-friend gung-ho.

So while they sell plastic fruit at the pretend farmer's market, or examine the worms in the worm bin, or hunt down the queen bee in the hive, or play dress up in the old log cabin (indoors and real! It's so cool! I want to play there!) I knit. Which is good because I don't have a lot of time to knit otherwise. And I get bored very easily just sitting there. Once I tried to take my laptop - but between having to get up and move to a different part of the building every five minutes and just plain feeling like a terrible mom to be working while my kids were playing - well, I never tried that again. So I knit.

When I was a kid, I spent part of every summer in Redding, California with grandparents. And every year, high up on my list of must-dos, was a trip to Carter House a kids/science museum. I loved it there. I could hold a giant boa constrictor and a soft, cuddly ferret in one visit (not at the same time of course, I'm sure the ferret would have objected to that!) I could look through microscopes and peer into fish tanks and hold real fossils. There were things to touch and see and smell, I remember being permanently fascinated by a fern-like plant that closed it's leaves when you touched it. We spent hours there, much as my kids do at the discovery museum. And while I don't remember my grandma sitting off to the side knitting, I wouldn't be surprised if that's what she did while I ran around and entertained myself with all of the amazing things around me. I never got tired of it.

It moved when I was in high school and then reopened in a newer and much fancier home not far from where it had been during my childhood. And it's better now, I can see that it's a better museum, much bigger, many many more things to do, but somehow, not quite as cool as it was during the summers of my childhood. I wonder if my kids will remember the Discovery Museum like that. If, 15 years from now, they'll say, remember when mom used to take us to that museum like , every day? It was so much fun! Or if it will simply fade away, like Briton's memories of riding the bus in Ireland, or our neighborhood in Portland. Will thinks I have an extraordinarily good memory (about most things, not, sadly about things like taking the trash out or turning the oven off after I use it). And I do remember tiny details, and from a time when I was very, very small. So maybe there is a chance that the kids will remember this summer. When daddy got to play half the day away. When mommy sat knitting while they stood in the giant kaleidoscope, giggling and giggling and giggling some more. I hope so. I know I will.