For New Years, my family and I decided to brave the blizzard and travel to Washington D.C to partake in all the culture. As we walked in the Hirshhorn, we were delighted to see that it was desolate, the ice scaring tourists away until the sun rose higher in the sky.
We ascended to the Ai Weiwei exhibit, which stunningly exhibited the faces of human rights activists and pioneers, spelling out their hushed story or heroism through a universal object: Legos. Yes, 10 of these installations were made entirely of our favorite, and most painful, childhood toy.
For any child, even myself, you can’t help but feel the urge to pick them off the floor and build a mini castle. For this one particular little boy, that was his intention. I saw it in his eyes, and he ran toward the art, fists open and ready.
As he (almost) frolicked into the third installation, his father ran and picked him up, setting off the alarm and nearly tumbling himself. After a scolding from the guard, he put his son in the stroller as he protested this decision furiously. I let out a breath of relief, thinking what the outcome would have been if the father had caught the boy one second later.
How fucked would this beautiful installation be by a little boy who wanted to play?
Sure, I am not a parent; I don’t understand the plights of parents and their inability to control their child’s every movement.
No, it was not that parent’s fault.
It was not that child’s fault: how can a child know better?
However, that is the point exactly; children, at such a young age, don’t understand why you can’t touch some things or the consequences of their actions.
I saw so many children on their phones, rolling their eyes at the Rothko that looked like “something I could have made”, and complaining about how busy it was. The art museum is no place for children: it’s for individuals to interpret and breathe abstractly, not a child. Take them to the zoo (animal prison), natural history museum, space museum, anywhere interactive. A child can relate more to a Trex fossil or Elephant or even the universe more than a Pollock. Don’t torture them, or me, for that matter.
If worse comes to worse, and you have to take your child, get them a leash. It seems to work for dogs.