This week is Spring Break. We didn't plan to go anywhere this year. I thought we could stay home and relax and just hang out without the pressures of packing and traveling. It seemed like a good idea the first day. By the second day, I was begging the Hubs to take us somewhere - anywhere.
I had some criteria though:
- Less than a 5 hour drive (I go batty on road trips and we couldn't afford to fly anywhere since I didn't get my act together.)
- Someplace with kid-friendly activities.
- A hotel with a separate bedroom for the kids, free wifi, free breakfast, and an indoor pool.
The Hubs came back with the following:
St. Louis – just a few hours down the road. The kids had never been and from what he could find online, there seemed to be a lot of stuff for them to do. He searched for a hotel and came back with one that met one out of my four criteria: indoor pool. “But it's a such a good deal!” he argued. Uh huh. With the Hubs he always sacrifices my wants for the sake of the "good deal."
It was the Hilton next to the airport and Gomer couldn't have been happier. He thought this was the “fanciest” hotel he's ever been in because it had a piano bar in the lobby with a real live person playing the piano. (He's used to staying in those places with the do-it-yourself waffle maker and all the Nutrigrain bars you can steal in the lobby.) Also he was thrilled to be so close to airplanes. “Look at that one! It's landing right beside us!” Apparently, I need to take my kid to the airport a bit more often.
After an uneventful drive (thank goodness) we headed to the City Museum. Whenever I mentioned to friends we were going to St. Louis, everyone said, “You must go to the City Museum. But . . .”
“It's a little . . . crazy,” they'd say. “You have to be able to let go.”
“Let go?” I'd ask.
“You'll see. It's not for everyone.”
I'd seen a few pictures online and I knew there was a huge outdoor playscape that the kids could climb through. Maybe they meant that. It didn't seem that bad in the pictures.
When we finally arrived and I got up close and personal with the playscape, I took a closer look at what my children were going to climb through.
Oh. My. God.
Miles of rebar, metal fencing, platforms, and salvaged shards of iron welded together to form a giant human hamster run with some sharp, rusted edges, and spots that were so small, they literally had to slide through on their backs in a few places. That was just the outside. The inside was 600,000 square feet and had much of the same, only the runs disappeared into the walls and ceilings and suddenly my kids would pop up out of the floor – literally. It was insane.
I'm not quite sure why this place is called a "museum," because there isn't much there except human ant colonies. There are no maps ("Just explore!" ie, get lost). There are no signs (it took me 10 minutes to find a freaking bathroom). There are very few official looking people who look like they might be in charge.
My kids had a blast and I slowly went crazy. I've said before that I'm not a helicopter parent, but holy shit, this place was terrifying. I would put my child down a rabbit hole and have no idea where he was going to pop back out. I watched kids (and adults) crawl through cages and all I could think about was, Where are the fire exits and how would I get my kids out of here if I had to? The only thing that reassured me was that almost everything was made of metal or concrete, so there wasn't much that would burn, but still.
Adolpha was a genius at finding hidden holes and disappearing underground before I could tell her I loved her one more time.
When you arrive at the Museum, you get a wristband that says something to the effect that they are not responsible for any injuries or your death and oh by the way, please put a phone number on here where we can reach you in the event that your child gets lost. The Hubs had to stop me from putting three phone numbers on their bracelets.
As soon as we walked in the door, the kids found a little hole to disappear down. The Hubs followed them. I took five steps into the pitch black and the quickly narrowing tunnel and I started to have a panic attack. Or at least I think it was a panic attack. I don't know. I've never actually had one. I'm not one to get nervous by much, but small, dark spaces or high, wide open spaces pretty much do me in. I yelled into the tunnel, “I can't do it, Hubs! I'll see you guys at the end!” and I backtracked before more people came along and wedged me in there.
Yup. I bailed on the Hubs. It was like Sophie's Choice, only there wasn't a choice. I sacrificed the Hubs. I figured he'd be better without me freaking out.
I wandered around for a while trying to find the end of the tunnel they went down. Finally, I asked a worker where they'd pop out. She told me it might be the second or the third floor, she couldn't remember. I went up to the third floor and found two excited kids and a slightly woozy Hubs. "That was rough," he exclaimed. "It's a good thing you backed out when you did. I tried a few times, but I had people right behind me. Twice I got stuck and I wasn't sure I'd ever make it out! Oh my God, Jen!"
Oh my God is right. I think I would probably still be stuck in a dark hole somewhere in the bowels of that building if I'd gone down the hole with them. I can't imagine going to that museum if you had any sort of phobias, because this place has something for everyone:
Afraid of crowds? This place is jam-packed with people and there is no place you can go to find a quiet spot for yourself.
Afraid of losing your kids? Send them down a chute and then try to figure out where they'll pop out.
Afraid of small spaces? Crawl through this hole under the floor that warns you it gets down to only 18 inches wide.
Afraid of the dark? Jump on this pitch black slide.
Afraid of heights? Climb out on the wing of this reclaimed airplane that's several stories above the concrete ground.
|Those are my kids crawling through rebar tunnels 4 stories off the ground!|
Just throw a few snakes and rats down those holes and I think that will cover every fear a person might have!
This is the greatest museum ever and we can't wait to go back again when the roof deck is open this summer. Yeah, you can climb through more twisted metal on the roof - just make sure your tetanus shots are up to date!