Monday, July 07, 2008

Sex Ed - From The Kid

My eldest, the Auspie, was always a hoot at the museum. From 3 on, when I was in college and had the discounted student pass, she'd stomp around the library-quiet museum with me during weekdays in this pair of brightly colored cowboy boots that she had to wear, no matter the weather or season.

My favorite Allie In An Art Museum Story took place during her first visit to the MAM.

We were looking through the "classic masters" section of paintings, when I heard her grunt and stomp out of the room. I did my own classic mommy bit then, trying to quietly catch up with her. When I did, I asked her why she left so quickly.

Hands on her hips, she turned to me and said, "I just don't understand why they have to put the fur there."

I stood stupefied for a moment -- and then remembered the partial female nude. "Fur" meant public hair.

"It's just the human body," I said. As 'mommy' -- and a single parent then too -- she'd never minded barging in on me in the bath (as you'll see in a bit) or getting dressed and so had seen me nude enough to know that pubic hair was, is, normal.

But apparently 'normal' had no place in art.

"They just shouldn't show that. They should paint a dress on them or something," was her reply.

As if nude models were understandable, but painting them thus was the problem.

Speaking of Allie and pubic hair...

Once when she was little she pushed her way into the bathroom while I was on the potty myself. She took one look at my pubic hair, pointed her little chubby toddler finger at it, and said, "Chipmunks live in there."

I knew if I laughed, I'd hear that forever; so I bit my tongue and replied, "No, they do not. When ladies and men grow-up, part of maturing is growing hair on their private parts."

She stood and stared at me.

Then she raised her finger along with her voice and shouted, "No! Chipmunks live in there!" Then she stormed out of the bathroom.

Leaving me a very puzzled mother on the toilet -- still too afraid to laugh.

Visting The Art Museum

Like most moms, I am forever behind in placing photos in the album; so why should digital pics posted in the old blog be any different? Here are some photos from when Hunter and I went to the Milwaukee Art Museum last fall, when he was seven.

I like to take kids alone to art museums. You get to take time having the child lead you around, stopping where & when they wish to, and have them respond to art without interference or opinion from anyone else. All I say is, "Show me what you like." And when they do, I ask them what it is they like about it. It's a very natural way to get at artistic response without bogging them down in stuff they don't understand -- or overwhelming them with stuff they don't care to know and won't remember anyway.

Plus, it just makes for a more relaxed, fun, trip; which means they will continue to want to go to museums.

And of course now I can snap pics with my cell (and take 9 months to post them), to add to the interactive experience.

Hunter, being raised by a rather negative father, often stops to say what he doesn't like. But my reaction is the same: "What don't you like about it?"

Eventually, either breaking out of 'daddy mode' and relaxing with me -- or just feeling more comfortable about looking at art -- eventually moved into telling me what pieces he did like.

Then it's off to the gift shop to buy a few postcards of their favorite pieces. Something to take home and look at later, I believe, reinforces not only the 'good times of the trip', but provides actual art in their room.

Things you should also know: He didn't like the nudes -- especially the males.

The best thing to do was to let him joke a bit about it. Little boys like butt jokes, so...