One of the things that made last weekend so fun was a visit from the original Squotund with her hubby and 8-month-old twins. It had been something like 6 years since I’d seen La Squo, but we picked right up like we’d just stopped rooming together last week. Mr. Squo had a conference at the U on Friday and Saturday, but on Sunday the whole family was free and raring to hit some Twin Cities hot spots. Being artsy types like ourselves, Mr. Squab and I suggested going to the Walker Art Center, seeing as how it’s one of the best in the country and it has an excellent outdoor garden and it was a lovely day for that sort of thing. I’d taken the Hatchling to the gardens before, but it had been a while since we all went to the museum together, and with a one-year-old and two 8-month-olds, you never know how an organized outing will go. But I have to say, the Walker was AWESOME. Not just as a museum, which, duh, of course it is, but as a place to take smaller kids and not feel like a freak.
Example one: we went up to the rooftop cafe for a bite to eat before we toured the galleries, and because it was such a nice day decided to dine outside. This was perfect for the first 2/3 of the meal, but then a really vicious little breeze sprung up and kept attacking our table, blowing our napkins far and wide, knocking over bottles of soda and distributing yogurt containers to the four corners of the earth. As we were frantically trying to gather our things and head indoors, the breeze snatched the Hatchling’s sunhat from the top of her stroller and flung it over the balcony wall and off in the direction of the gardens. We were prepared to just write it off as a loss, when one of the museum guards came over and told us she’d radio down to some of the main floor people and see if one of them could find it. And THEN, as if that weren’t nice enough, when one of them DID find it, she came and found us in a random gallery and delivered the hat back personally! Who does that? (I think my squabby bear hug may have taken her slightly aback, but I was just so grateful I had to do it.)
Example two: You know how galleries have pretty sweet acoustics? Well, the Hatchling and the Squo-babies JUST FIGURED THAT OUT. There was much delighted shrieking in each room, and have you ever tried to tell a pre-verbal child to use their inside voice? Because yeah. It doesn’t work. Mr. Squab even tried covering the Hatchling’s mouth with his hand, but she just thought it was an awesome game the object of which was to shriek loud enough to penetrate human flesh. Which, in case you were wondering, she can easily do. We cringed when we saw the museum guards approaching us, but no! They just wanted to tell us how adorable our babies were, and how fun it was to see kids finding their voices in the galleries. And then one of them offered to watch our stroller if we wanted to go up the stairs and check out the other exhibit. I mean, Jesus! I know this state is all about “Minnesota Nice” and all, but holy crap they were nice!
It made me realize how often I feel like I have to apologize for having a sweet chubby cute curious squirmy opinionated baby. And don’t get me wrong, I get that there are places that are inappropriate for kids and that’s OK with me. But I’m also pathologically averse to causing trouble in public. I hate making a disturbance, being a pain in the ass, drawing undue attention to myself. This will probably make readers who know me laugh in disbelief, since I’m not known as a particularly quiet person … but it’s true nonetheless. I’ll be a pain in the ass to my friends, sure, but in public I try strenuously to avoid it. I’m the person who has my change ready when I get up to the counter, who looks up routes and menus in advance so I don’t take too much time getting places or deciding what to order, who overpacks whenever I travel so I’m prepared for every contingency – that person. It’s not so easy to be that person with a small child, particularly if you don’t want to give the child a complex. We do pretty well, mostly because the Hatchling is a highly accomodating and well-behaved baby, but I hadn’t realized how much of a second class citizen I’ve allowed myself to feel over the last year, not wanting to be that woman with the annoying baby. It’s fucked up, right? Mentally, politically, I know this: women have babies, it takes a damn village and (within certain boundaries) people can just fricking deal with it. But my emotions haven’t been keeping pace, and it took a visit to a modern art museum to remind me how the world is supposed to be.