I like free stuff. Hey - who doesn't? That being said, I don't think free stuff is worth it if you have to fight through a bunch of other people to get it. I don't know what it is about free things that brings out the worst in people. Grand opening where the first 100 people get a $5 gift card? I can live without it. Free burger to the first 300 people in line? I'll just pay the four bucks for it later, when there is no line, thanks.
Getting something for free if it's just going to piss me off in the process is just not worth the stress it causes.
One place where I will make an exception is First Fridays. On the first Friday of each month, there are a few museums and galleries in downtown Phoenix that are open for free from 6-10 in the evening. Since the boy stays up later, this is perfect for us. Generally we go to the Phoenix Art Museum. It's big, it's not too packed, there's usually enough parking, and the people visiting are generally well behaved. The volunteers and employees aren't afraid to speak up if needed to keep people in line, either. It's a nice evening out.
Then there is the Children's Museum of Phoenix. I love this place. There is so much to do, and it's geared toward kids of all ages. The exhibits and activities are interesting and well thought out. It's awesome, and also free on First Fridays.
The problem? It's SUPER popular. I mean, you can take all seven of your bad kids out for a night of fun for free! Heck, you can bring the neighbor's kids too if you can cram them in the car. Seatbelt laws are for SUCKERS anyway, and since it's only a stone's throw from the 'hood, the odds of getting caught are low. Since it's geared toward kids, you don't really have to watch them either, right? Just let them run loose and have fun! They're kids! Oh, and no worries about getting there early to get a good spot in line to get in. You know you'll see one of your homegirl's cars in the parking lot and she'll just let you and your five bad kids cut in line with her seven bad kids. No problem!
The parking lot is not very big so it fills up fast. That's a pretty good indicator of what is to come. It was so packed inside, you could barely hear yourself think! There were kids running amok everywhere you turned. The bigger kids would hoard items for the different activities so that no one else could do them. Volunteers just smiled helplessly when someone would misbehave in front of them. Kids would finish an activity, then drop whatever they were using on the floor as they walked away. Some kids on tricycles (who to be completely honest, were WAY too big for them) were racing down the walkway, mowing down all the little kids who were more slow and therefore in their way. One (who kept shouting "YOU CAN'T STOP CRAZY TAXI!!!) plowed head on into my husband without slowing down or apologizing or anything!
WHERE ARE THESE KID'S PARENTS???
So why go? Well, due to our budget right now, we don't really take the boy a lot of places. If we want to go out, it has to be cheap or free. It would be $33 for all of us to go to the Children's Museum, not to mention the 30 minute drive across town which would use a LOT of gas. If my husband wants to go with us, he has to take the afternoon off work or else we wouldn't be able to get there early enough to get parking. Then there's the matter of dinner - you have to eat before you go, so either you eat super early at home, or you grab something downtown.
It's hard to go to these things. It takes planning. My husband took a day off, I started dinner at 2:30, we ate at 3:45, we left the house at 4:15, and got to the museum at about 5:00. Then we hung out in the car for half an hour until we saw the line was starting to get long, then spent the last 30 minutes before they opened standing in line people watching.
Then we got inside and it all seemed worth it, seeing how excited and happy the boy was. After all, isn't this why we put ourselves through this stuff?
Kinda like Plinko!
Crayon rubbing. This week has seen the ushering in of the era of the cheese grin.
Car and tricycle track. There were these little wooden toys where you pushed with your feet and small metal tricycles. This is where the big kids were mowing everyone down. So dangerous, and not a volunteer in sight.
They have this gigantic climbing structure in the middle. It's all open and big enough for an adult to enter, which means it's CLEAN. Three stories of clean, climbing fun!
There were a bunch of old basketball shoes to try on in one area. These are a size 18.
Scooping lentils. He LOVED this, but then he started to get territorial and earned a time out.
They have a little grocery store set up in there with shelves, a checkout area, cloth shopping bags, and play food. I love these carts - they are miniature versions of what I'd use in a real supermarket. So much cooler than those bulky plastic monstrosities.
It was here I saw a four year old in two inch heels remark to her father "I'm SEXY!!!" after he took a photo of her posing like a swimsuit model in the checkout lines.
A pickle car! Bubba likes his Richard Scarry books, so this was fun for him.
A real dirt bike. There were a bunch of rowdy kids here, all shoving and pushing each other off of this thing. The boy really wanted to sit on it, but there didn't seem to be any system for waiting for turns so I finally just kicked the kids off by telling them it was Bubba's turn in my "teacher voice." Thank the Lord for the teacher voice, HA! He got on, I took a photo, he played with the handle brakes for about 30 seconds, then decided he wanted off.
I think those other kids will live.
By this point I could feel my chest being totally tight with the stress from being in there. I checked my phone and saw that two hours had gone by. That was enough for me! I told my husband and he agreed. As we were heading out, I saw this little walkway that looked pretty empty, so we went that way. Turns out, it was the book area.
They had these cool carpeted rings and stools and rocking chairs with a bunch of books. What does it say about our society that this was the most abandoned and quietest part of the whole place? Sad. We took a few minutes to decompress and read a book before leaving.
Since we were out that way already, we stopped by my mom's house so she could have a visit with the boy. She fed me Fritos and him cheesecake sandwiches ("What? They're on wheat bread so they're healthy!!!" -direct quote from my mother), then they played with cars. Finally we headed home and collapsed into bed shortly before midnight.
Labels: Bubba, husband, mother