Parenting …. when you measure the amount of moaning to assess whether it was a good or a bad outing.

On Saturday I decided we — the kids and I — were going to have a cultural day.

I did not tell them too much in the run up, as I wanted to keep the moaning and whining to a minimum.  It didn’t change the fact that no matter what we were doing Isabelle wanted to know when we were going to go to the “gallery place.”

We went into Cape Town —- to keep their mood and sugar level up, I stopped at McDonalds for breakfast as requested.

It was all starting off quite well.

We parked.

And I was charged R17.60 for an hour — I was parked on the road.  It wasn’t like my car was at Hooters and they were going to give me free chicken wings and wash the car.  It was what I was being charged to leave my car randomly against a pavement.  For an hour.  Possibly I do not spend enough time in town being ripped off for parking.

I tried to control my face – freaking out about the hourly rate was not going to sweeten the mood.  I just decided, listen I seldom use their services, let them just take my money.

We walked up in the direction of the museum/gallery and I realised there were several parking spots closer and in the shade.  I was thinking about the end of the day and getting these kids to walk back.  I know that outings often end in a need to drink alcohol quickly and get away from your children for about 45 minutes, so you can just reboot.

I suggested they wait together in a small mass gathering and I would walk down fetch the car and just move it.  Up the same road.  Parked next to the same kerb.

I got out the car and I thought, yes, that’s quite a win.

A parking attendant popped over and suggested I give him another R17.60 — I wanted to suggest to him he shove his little scan and pay machine in a very safe place as I showed him I had a parking ticket.  And indicated I had just given his work colleague the money.  To park.  On the same road.  Against the same kerb.  Like 15 parking spots down the way — I could point and wave at my previous parking spot.

It appears it does not work that way.

He was not going to make an exception.  And then two other key statements.  They rolled off his tongue like an oral he has learnt really well and regurgitate often.

I sensed he has been faced with this occurrence and knows how to squelch it quickly.  I paid the R170.60 again —- even Connor whistled through is teeth and said “this isn’t going well is it?”

I gave him that arched eyebrow look that can only be translated as “you are right as fuck…”

Anyway we went to the gallery — the gallery said that if we wanted to go to museum and the gallery, then we need to go to the museum first.  The ticket we buy there can then get us into the gallery.

And it did not work the other way around.

I was sensing a theme for the day.  Growing.

Just to create a bit of “atmosphere” — it was 27 degrees outside.  The inside of my house is always 6 degrees cooler than it is outside.

I was dressed for a day of 18 – 20 degrees and after the light jog back to the car to move — it was freaking hot, sweating and realising that calf length boots were not the best choice.  Neither were my two layers of shirts with the jacket over it.  And the scarf.

Connor who has become a quick read of most situations looked at me and just said :”Oh mommmmm” knowing that I was probably on the point where this was starting to get challenging.  And I was needing to hold back to keep my good language in check.

Okay, so we went back to the Museum.  Because that is how it works.  It appears.

— we first went to the planetarium show — it was geared for kids.  Of the 8 years and under crowd.  But the room had good air-conditioning and the chairs are comfortable.  I have always like the planetarium.

After that we walked around the museum — there are exhibits that were there when I visited the museum 40 years ago — but it is still cool to see them.  “Cool” being a very relative term.

There weren’t enough people there to have to constantly shush the kids.  I actually just let them run around like mild hooligans.  The kids are big enough that someone can’t actually snatch them away.  And also they are making so much noise that I can hear them three suburbs away.

It’s a bit like the clicking noise bats make to navigate, but just far louder and more annoying.  That is parenting in a public place.  You are trying to call your children quietly and then 45 minutes later you are over this shit and just screaming their full name, including first, second, third and surname.

At one point I called Isabelle and did all her 4 names.  Her retort? She screamed my 4 names in the museum whale area to see if there was an echo.

At some point you realise you have invested way too much into this outing and you just want to go home now.  I then outsource the parenting to Connor.  The problem is you never tell him he has become the defacto parent, as he likes to hit the other two into submission.

Normally a clip against the side of the head does it.  I really do not know where he learns this parenting style from.

We then headed to the gallery — this was going to be the highlight. Remember Isabelle has been moaning about going to the gallery since we got out the car — the first time.

I am not sure if she got gallery confused with circus of the flying monkeys.

I thought now, right now, is when my kids are going to get exposed to culture and really enjoy it.  Like really really.

It appears abstract art is not appealing to children.  Mainly because you need to keep explaining to them that no, that is not exactly the same thing they can do at home.

No, not that one either.

No, I cannot give them glue, some newspaper and some white paint and they can make this one.  No, not that one either.

Yes, I know it looks really simple, but it has balance and depth and …… my children have wandered off at that point.  The yelp reviews on the Abstract Exhibition are still not in —- but I would not hold my breath for that from my three.

Isabelle was well over the gallery 7 minutes in —- and I am allowing for the time it took to sort the tickets out and get through the front door.  It was probably closer to 3 minutes.

There were two exhibits I really enjoyed : The African Choir 1891 Re-Imagined  and At Face Value.  Well worth the visit.  Sans children.

Isabelle and Georgia were playing the game — who could find a spare chair and sort of lie all over it the soonest and not allow the other one to get on it.  No matter how much the other one whinged and whined.  And screamed their name.

Connor made a concerted effort to read a few of the write ups and he took his time.  I think he was just taking pity on me and trying to show some interest, whilst the other two had just lost their shit when we arrived in the first room.

My favourite piece is The Butcher Boys by Jane Alexander and I had been looking to seeing this piece all day.  It was right at the end.

I must confess by the time I got there I no longer had the energy to explain it’s meanings and to force the children to be culturally appreciative.

The “mommmmmmm —- she is not giving me any of the chaiiiiirrrrrr”was becoming deafening.  I saw another couple with two young kids, the dad had the one kid on his head and was spinning him like a hello-copter —- very clever I thought.  Great distraction until the kid pukes, but that is a secondary problem.

Connor was not interested in being helicoptered.  And granted he was not one of the problem children.

We moved through the gallery quicker than hoped and then headed home.

I think the temperature was nearly 29 degrees by the time we got out.  Yay for moving the car to a shady spot.

I realised that one starts to assess how good an outing is by the level of whining, bitching (that’s me) and moaning.  I don’t think we will be doing a cultural day anytime soon in the future.

Next weekend beer tasting — and they can fight over chairs until they are blue in the face.  I really need to get Connor a learner’s licence pronto!!


Image source: