It is impossible to read the piece "Avoiding the "M" Word" and not be frustrated anew by the blindness of the world around us. It conjures up some truly frightening trends and threats that exist today. In our home there is also an "m" word, and while it is no where near as heavy or significant on a grand scale, it evokes near disaster level fear and fright in the Braverman children.
It has nothing to with religion, terror or fanaticism. In our home, the "m" word is unconnected to income, buying power, chores or other financial resources. It's not monsters under the bed, yet it might as well be.
In our home the "m" word is museum. No amount of cajoling, pleading, or rewards of the nature that begin with another "m" word can convince my children to enter a museum.
A wonderful family trip to Washington was only marred, they say, by the presence of so many museums. And our overwhelming need to visit them.
Although they loved The Spy Museum, it certainly wasn't a museum in any classical sense. And classical or not, in general the doors -- and their minds -- remain closed.
I can understand that art is not everyone's cup of tea. But how about science? Natural history? Aerospace? Doesn't anything resonate?
When they were young, they enjoyed children's museums. We took that and ran with it, visiting every children's museum within a hundred mile radius and even some across the country (Paramus anyone?). Playing cashier began to lose its appeal. And how many home videos can they make?
What's a frazzled mother to do? Can't I please make the long summer days fun, and educational? I like museums, I like the new experience, I like the architecture, the gardens, the gift shops...Actually my kids like the gift shop too, as long as they have plenty of that other "m" word in their pockets!
Watching my children sit around when there is so much to learn and see can lead a mother to pull out her hair.
We don't have a television but we do have, what I call, a TV window; a large window in the living room with a full view of the street. (We live at the end of a T so we get two streets for the price of one). My children could sit there for hours watching the world go by. And they do.
But those young minds with all that potential? Is it a lack in me? Do museums need fresh PR?
After years of struggle I have given up the fight. If there is something we want to see at a museum, my husband and I go alone (solving the problem of what to do on date night).
And with our children, we go swimming and biking, to fairs and festivals (we have had to drag them to some of those too), to visit friends. We read and haunt libraries and bookstores. We play Boggle and Scattergories and Stratego and Jeopardy. We bake, do art projects, play basketball and ping pong. We discuss current events, learn Torah and debate important ideas (like was it right or wrong to post the transcript of Harry Potter online ahead of its release date?!).
The days seem full and meaningful -- and exhausting. Could the kids be right? Maybe we don't need those "m" places after all.