We had another adventure last weekend. Went to DC, to the National Gallery of Art, to see the Royal Armor exhibit.
It takes us 2+ hours to get to DC. 2+ hours back. We spend about 2 hours in the museum.
Sometimes the calculus of fun seems off. I measure time against the fun and go... wait, four hours of transit for this?
This, though, is fun. That's what it is about, no? My friend A is gently bringing me back to that whenever I talk to him. It isn't about the hours spent, or the details of what happened when. If I start going into the details I will get to the fun of it, eventually, too. My siblings 'get it' in the sense that if I go off on how my kids geeked on the Greek statues (who knew that my kids even knew how to say Calliope properly, let alone knew what her child's name was), they'll laugh and light up and know why I light up, too.
But I don't always tie it in. I end up stuck in the details, sometimes. Listing what happened, when, how long it took, where we went, like a statistical data dump. Boring? Nah. Or, uh, well, maybe? (wince) Certainly not real, not meaningful, no 'me' and no 'them' in the description. And without that, the trip redefines itself into less fun.
So, I'm working on remembering (and noticing, so I can remember) the fun. Nobody has asked me to (not even A, except with his conversational re-direction), but I think it's useful, now that I have noticed that I sometimes forget to catalog the fun, the joy, the laughter, the pleasure, the peace, the glee, the satisfaction, all the stuff that shows the fun. I sometimes just catalog the event, not the experience.
Cataloging the full experience is so much more ... well, more. I can't escape the tendency to catalog, I was born with that. I'll leave that there, as suppressing that would probably make my brain pop.
Anyway... the trip. First was Mr B's final pony-pal riding lesson - next session he's going to be with the big kids (8 and ups), in group lessons. Rainy and chilly, a good Boston November day... or maybe January day. Only we're not in Boston. I felt my inner wince as the shoulder injury from when Mr B fell down the stairs at Baba's manifested in an off-center and off-cadence posting effort. It took the full lesson to settle in with his horse, but then there was the satisfaction of getting her to pick up the canter and stay with it toward the end. I hope his shoulder gets better soon - it is a muscle injury, but it still bothers him a bit. Maybe shouldn't have done the riding at all... though he's using it in play. Muscle strength takes a while to come back after an injury. And then joy and shining eyes, showing big brother G the hawk that had taken shelter in the riding barn.
Long drive down, companionable silences and excited chatter from the back. Ep and I talking out 'stuff' that we're dealing with, remembering us, trying to tune a little to each other before we let go of our own needs and focus on the kids, letting them see what they want to see without setting up conflicts. The trip, after all, is for them. If we enjoy it, great, but it isn't about us enjoying it. And actually, we tend to enjoy these things more if we have ourselves tuned to the larger purpose and goal. Goal? Mr G and Mr B get to see the armor.
And then to the metro station. Gleeful stomping in rain. Shy-but-flattered glance up at the gentleman complimenting Miss M's colorful combination of attire (pink polkadot rain boots, flowered pink-and-orange pants, blue and green dress, purple coat, turquoise and navy umbrella). Affectionate and loving hand-holding as we walked, not just the mechanical 'I must hold hands for safety' but 'I want to hold hands with you'. Consideration and satisfaction as the youngest asked to be the ones to put the metro passes in the slots, and take them out, and hand them back to us. Wondering and wonderful and pretty funny oogling out the metro windows, with excited shouting out of things we passed, so delighted by just the Metro ride itself. Serious observation and practice of the skills for riding the escalator.
Lunch with Aunt L and a friend of hers. Relaxing into the tangle of requests and needs, desire and resistance, preference and decision changes that make up our kids deciding on what they want of what they can eat here. Fries, burgers (no bun, no 'stuff'), bacon, grilled chicken, pizza for the one who can have that, order up! The zen of feeding children - no specific emotions most of the time, just waiting, tending, offering, waiting some more. Miss R wanted something else, but waited out, she chose what was available without a struggle or a fight.
Then back into the rain.
Curiosity (why do they... oh!) and pride in counting the numbers for crossing the roads (the count-down to the light change), hurrying with hands held through the rain. The rich and satisfying warmth of the kids watching out for each other, in series or in combination - one checking on another, then another checking on someone else, making sure they're all together, making sure everyone is okay, helping with this, trading on helping with that, around and around, just barely at the noticeable level. I'm so used to them loving each other, genuinely and openly, that I forget sometimes how much that is part of how they act. Granted, they fight, too, but the excitement created few fights and more tending, lots of problem-solving with only a little coaching.
In the museum, the satisfaction of noticing (while we stand and wait for ep to get the coats to the coat check) that there are fossils in the marble floor (or whatever stone it is), spotting them here and there, look, another! Satisfaction again, watching ep coach Mr B thruogh figuring out where we are going, look at the map, find the gallery we want, and setting them off to wayfind. The easy touchdown of checking to see who is taking point, and who is sweep (I was sweep). And oh, the sculpture. No time to study it, absorb or take it in, but still time to see the girls' awe and wonder, and the boys' delight and assessment of what kinds they like best (busts don't interest them much, full body statues do).
Ourtide the exhibit, the chance to try on armor, gauntlets and helm, heavy and dangerous-looking. Fully engaged set of kids, touching the things they can touch, looking through the books, asking questions. And a lot of time looking at the mural of battle scenes, spotting different items with shouts of excitement, look over here! Not too much for the museum, volume-wise, and enough engagement to make other people smile.
And then the armor, Mr G nearly nose-pressed against the glass, drawn in to the metalwork, soaking it up, soul-satisfied in the presence of skill and mastery of the art. Mr B and I spent more time together, looking at the horse armor, observing how you could see the shape of the horse it was made for, how broad the chest, and Mr B's gleeful grasping of the concept, pointing out how the eye of the horse statue they'd put it on for the exhibit was not in the same place as the eye of the horse it was made for, see, look, there! Imagining what the horse would sound like when it trotted, metal chiming and jingling. Picturing how strong the horse must have been, and what it would have been like to ride it. Shining eyes and glowing face on that, wonderful wonderful. Then back to the people armor, looking at color and pattern, comparing the real thing to the version in the portraits associated... minds clicking along, satisfaction and surprise and questions and curiosity.
And oh, the quizzing of each other on which statue was which deity, sharp satisfaction in knowing the answer, knowing more than mom does, being able to explain why and how, what clues and what signs were present. Watching Mr G teach Mr B how to identify Bacchus, and Hermes, his pride in his knowledge but also pride in teaching well, sharing the knowledge.
Some grumpies as the day went on, but mostly from MIss R, who was already grumpy (we think she's in a growth spurt again). Some problem-solving as we figured out how to manage the desired gift shop purchases (birthdays coming up), and how to do that without it being too much to do (sequential trips). Then the too-tight hustle and rush as we got everyone back through the bathrooms and back out into the rain and back to the metro and ... pause on the metro, dancing and laughing, working on the safety issues constantly but still letting the girls spin around the poles a little, just because.
And home again home again, boys chattering and playing in the back, girls first pensive and then asleep. Ep falling asleep with his fingertips resting on my leg companionably while I drove. Satisfaction.
A good day. A worthy adventure. Worth remembering not just what we did, but how it went.