Sunday, May 2, 2010
Regular TDT contributor, Tulsa Business Journal Senior Editor and Urban Tulsa Weeky Arts Writer Holly Wall has a post for us today that's a must-read for all Tulsa parents with young kids. Newsflash: There's no need to relinquish one's pre-baby life for day after day at at the local Gymboree. Holly doesn't just tell us why, but how. Take it away, Holly!
Being both a gal about town and the mother of a very active toddler, I’m frequently asked about kid-friendly activities in Tulsa. And when I am, I kind of chuckle. Not because it isn’t a relevant question — it is, for sure — but because I’ve never thought to ask it myself.
I tend to take my kid everywhere I go, with the exception of bars and liquor stores.
Actually, I did take my kid to a liquor store once. He was about five months old and asleep in his carrier and I just needed to grab a bottle of wine to take to dinner at a friend’s. I was told promptly to leave. Who knew babies aren’t allowed inside liquor stores in Oklahoma? (Or, probably, any state?)
Anyway, there are lots of places you can take your kids. Lots more than you think, actually.
Being the former visual arts writer for Urban Tulsa Weekly (I still write for the paper, but about performance art. Libby Williams has come on board to cover visual arts), I attend a lot of gallery openings. Or I did, before my son was born. I spent the first few months of his life barely leaving the house — both because to do so was something of a feat and because I wasn’t sure what places would be welcoming to my sweet, adorable baby boy.
I finally, decided, though, I was tired of missing out on stuff just because I had a baby. Also, I wanted to teach Isaac early on to value the things I value — art, theatre, even sports. I take Isaac to local art galleries as often as I take him to Drillers baseball games.
When Isaac was a baby, it was really easy to put him in the sling and hop between as many galleries as I wanted. He was quiet, compliant and we stayed out until it was time for dinner or bed.
Now that he’s a very vocal, very mobile 2-year-old, gallery hopping is slightly more difficult, but not impossible. Before we leave the house, I make sure he’s in the mood for an outing. If he’s cranky or fussy, we skip it. But if he’s agreeable and in a good mood, we load up and go.
When we arrive, we hit the snack table first, loading a small plate with cheese, crackers, veggies and fruits. I let him carry this around the gallery, keeping an eye out that he doesn’t dump it all over the floor, and it keeps him occupied while I peruse the art.
When he’s not eating, I spend a lot of time holding Isaac. I point to the paintings and we talk about colors, shapes and the like. We count, we match colors in the painting to what he’s wearing, we talk about big versus little. Sometimes he’ll point to something he wants to look at, so I’ll let him lead me across the gallery to another painting or object.
I keep a close eye on him to make sure he doesn’t touch anything, and when he begins to get antsy, we leave. I’ve only had to drag him screaming from a gallery once, and I learned my lesson. At the first sign he’s ready, we go.
If we have multiple galleries to visit, as we often do — galleries tend to hold their openings on the same Thursday of each month, and every first Friday of the month, the Brady Arts District hosts a gallery walk — I split up our visits with outdoor playtime. I find a grassy area — downtown, I like the west wall of the Mathews Building, soon to be the Visual Arts Center — where he can freely run around. Then, we hit the next gallery.
As parents, we give up a lot for our kids. But we don’t have to give up everything. By bringing your children with you wherever you go (provided they’re legally allowed, of course), you not only get to keep living your life, but you get to expose them to your interests and passions, and that can have a lasting effect on their development, even into adulthood.