Should you visit the Getty Center with a small child? Maybe. My memories of the Getty Center had been of peaceful, cool days strolling through the galleries and enjoying the gardens at a slow, meandering pace. Of course, that was nine years ago, before parenthood. We finally went back, this time with a three-year-old boy in tow. When he was a baby and toddler, we lived in Houston and could usually manage an hour or so of calm when we visited the Museum of Fine Arts or the Menil. He’d even point out artwork that he liked (Van Gogh’s self-portrait was a favorite), staring intensely at it or comparing it to farm animals. We should have realized those days are over when we visited Hearst Castle last year, but we tried again. We tried to view the illuminated manuscripts, but his intentionally loud statements about poop forced us to leave the gallery in embarrassment. He wasn’t impressed with the gardens, either. We thought he would have plenty of room to get out and run, but he didn’t want to leave the stroller. We promised him fountains, but they had all been turned off due to the drought. He did like a few things, though: the tram ride up from the parking area, the children’s band that was playing on the lawn, and the yogurt parfait and handmade potato chips in the cafeteria!
Inspired by the rockets that a friend made with her boys from plastic cups, my son and I sat down today to make a robot family after doing a robot puzzle together. I poked holes in the cups to insert chenille stem arms and antennae. (The metallic stems were discovered in a closet at my mom’s. She would use them to make ‘Christmas spiders’ somewhat like these.) I cut shapes out of adhesive-backed foam for him and helped tape the cups together. He attached the eyes and drew with my Sharpies (quite a privilege!) But what he seemed to like most was telling stories about them, telling me they were a family of robots without my prompting. He fed them metallic hay and talked about their digestive systems (potty training…) and asked why daddies are big and strong. It was a spur-of-the-moment craft. I’m enjoying the chance of pace in our arts and crafts as he grows.
My son’s creative acts these last ten days have largely revolved around what his grandparents are doing: making pies and cookies with Grandpa, watching Grandma tat snowflakes (like the glow-in-the-dark ones she made for his bedroom mobile.) I rarely bake and I never do hand needlework, so I love to see him enjoying the change of pace, and I love that the grandparents so readily let him join in.
I can’t believe we didn’t try this sooner! Frozen paint popsicles to use on a hot day. I loved how the texture of the paint changed after it was frozen, how pretty it was. I loved the thick texture of it as it melted, which happened fairly quickly in our desert climate (108 on Friday!) My son loves a lot of mess, though, and I don’t think it melted quickly enough for him to dive into the type of mess he prefers when he is using art materials. There are several variations of this online, but I chose to use Dixie cups to freeze mine, sticking in a popsicle stick after about 30 minutes. They needed a warm rinse to come loose from the cups.