Today started slow/frustrating. The kids wanted to ride our bikes to the ROM (totally biking distance, now). Kat loaned us her bike lock to lock the bikes (we only have a couple small ones and HUGE chain to lock them on the front porch...nothing that'll lock 3 bikes to a bike stand) and a tool for me to true my back wheel.
Truing the wheel took a really long time, and I didn't get it perfect, but the day was running away from us fast, so I deemed it "good enough" and hunted down helmets, packed a backpack and got ready to take to the road...only to find the bike seat was too high for me, and I couldn't find the tool to take it down.
We decided to take the subway.
Getting to the ROM, there were crowds of really pushy people vying to get in. The Dead Sea Scrolls are there right now, and, apparently this is A Big Deal. This is such A Big Deal, we had to go through a bag check, and there were police everywhere. I resent bag checks even at places where violence or drug use are common. I was not thrilled to be subjected to one at the ROM. I asked the guy: "Can I ask why this is neceesary?" his answer? "To make sure you don't have anything you're not allowed to bring into the ROM" This was such a non-answer, I didn't know quite what to say so I just kinda looked confused. "It's because of the Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibit. People might bring in stuff they're not allowed to"
Now, the activist in me would have liked to really get down to it. Ask him what kinds of things he thought people would be bringing to this exhibit, why the Dead Sea Scrolls in particular were considered to incite people to...what exactly? Cause a fuss. But the mom in me knew my kids just wanted to go to the ROM and maybe not have to stand there while everyone got annoyed with their mom for holding up the line. I do think a letter is in order, though. I'd be interested in people's input about the issue.
Finally, after being elbowed out of the way by a party of about 10 in the express line, who literally pushed past me, then stood there organizing whose tickets were whose (I had my membership card out and ready, as one might be prone to doing when they've been directed to the "express entry" lane). We entered
Me: So! What do you want to see?
MC and Baz: Dinosaurs!
Me: Dude! We see the dinosaurs EVERY time we come. There's a whole big museum here, full of awesome stuff that you've never even laid eyes on. Let's do something we don't do every time.
MC: OK! Let's go THIS way...we never go THIS way
I was not expecting the enthusiasm. In fact, I was expecting to be outvoted.
While I'm sure, based on the crowds at the entrance, that the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit was jam packed, the rest of the galleries were quite sparsely attended, so it felt like having the museum practically to ourselves. How nice!
We found ourselves in the Asia Galleries. The kids kinda milled around breezing past ancient Buddhas and boddhavistas, elaborate paintings, etc. I was disappointed, as this isn't how they USED to approach the museum (I blame conventional schooling for this loss of intellectual curiosity - but that's a topic in and of itself). So I picked something big (a large mural) and started making observations on it. Soon, B and MC were making observations, too. After that, I started asking them questions about their observations and then, presto! they were engaged. No sooner were they engagedly chatting, did a ROM volunteer tour guide happen upon us. She leaped into the conversation and gave us and impromtu private tour of the whole japanese collection. She asked questions, told stories and was just generally really awesome.
When the volunteer concluded this tour (jam packed with awesome information), she asked where we were going next. When we expressed that we were just kinda wandering in a direction and seeing what we found, she suggested the typical kid exhibits (dinosaurs, biodiversity). When we expressed that we ALWAYS go to those, she suggested the First Peoples exhibits. At this, B launched into a lengthy explanation of Native Culture and the significance of totem poles. Delighted, she opted to come along to the totem poles with us and tell us the story depicted on the tallest one. So she did!
After that, we parted ways on the second floor. Right in front of the NEW biodiversity gallery. The one that wasn't open yet last time we were at the ROM. So we went in.
It's pretty awesome and the kids had a great time there. MC insisted on reading the information on the view screens in french, to which B initially objected, until he realized he could figure out what they all meant (that kid has SUCH a gift with language. If only his expressive ability could keep up!) with only a few words of translation from his sister (the word for toad, for example had both B and I stumped, but MC translated). So we did the biodiversity gallery in french. Most of my answers to MC's questions had to be phrased in English, I found, but I'm thankful that that didn't dissuade her from asking in french.
We also caught an Earth Rangers show, with a live falcon and a little movie about what kids can do to reduce their carbon footprint.
We got only about halfway through the First People's gallery before little tummies started rumbling, so we went out to the lobby to have a snack.
All in all, it was an incredibly successful, awesome visit.