We were on vacation in Maine with the kids for a week. It was pouring rain. What to do? I would have taken my six year old to a movie, a rare treat for her. But, my two year old needs a place to run and jump and use up some energy. Ah! We could go to the Portland Children’s Museum. A brilliant idea. So brilliant, every family this side of the Mississippi had the same idea. The parking garage was full. There was a line around the corner. They weren’t letting people in until others left. The place was downright mobbed. It was the perfect place to study parenting styles, child behavior, and the dos and don’ts of crowd management in a family destination. Based on my own observations, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share a few etiquette lessons for a trip to the
zoo children’s museum.
- First, finish your steaming hot and very full cup of coffee at Starbucks — or maybe in the line snaking down the block. And never, I repeat, NEVER, attempt to hold not one, but two, steaming hot and very full cups of coffee in one hand while guiding your toddler around the very crowded ball room. Apart from the obvious dangers, I know the place resembles a carnival more than the Louvre, but it’s still technically a museum after all, and have you ever known a museum that allowed food or beverage in the exhibit halls.
- Second, it is not ok to carry your folded-up stroller throughout the museum. I get that you must not trust the safety of the designated stroller parking area, but the other 2,500 families do, so get over it and perhaps you’ll reduce your chances of decapitating a young child or two.
- Third, when a toddler zooms past you and your family, walking four abreast down the hall, stop for a moment, step aside for two seconds, and kindly allow the parent frantically trying to keep up with him to catch up to him. Think of it as the same rule you use when you’re driving and a ball rolls into the street. In this case the toddler is the ball, the parent is the child.
- Fourth, despite the fact that some evil scientist clearly designed the absurd twisty tree structure that children climb inside and exit in any one of seven different places with zero visibility for parents, you may not park yourself inside the base of said structure to watch your child while 72 other parents suffer heart attacks trying in vain keep an eye on their children. Of course, if you are sitting in the base of this structure to prevent children from entering this ridiculous monstrosity in the first place, all is forgiven.
- Finally, leave it to the kids to determine whose turn it is to play with something, how long a turn should last, and how they might play with the same thing together. Sure, they’re less than perfect at sharing, but most of the time they’re better at it than their parents.
As a small side note, if you plan to go to the Portland Children’s Museum, make sure you do your research properly. I was all set with my plans until I tried to enter the address into our GPS. Turns out I had thoroughly researched the Portland, Oregon Children’s Museum rather than my preferred destination in Portland, Maine.