Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers and Museums

Mother's Day was a blast, start to finish. With a 3 1/2 year old boy who will usually tell you "I don't want to do that" once you mention that something might be fun, and a 1 year old girl who believes it is her duty to bring a smile to the face of every person in JP, on the Orange Line, in Harvard Square, and on the 66 and 39 buses, my wife (the mother) and I visited the Harvard Museum of Natural History. Jackson, in heaven, ran from one animal to the next for what seemed like hours, "I want to see even MORE animals!". Libbie pointed knowingly at birds and monkeys and sharks and fossils and nodded her head emphatically, as if to say, "What's that?, Oh, yes, I thoooooought so.", before retiring her sweet head (her breath smelled of french fries and ketchup) to my shoulder for a walking nap.

None of us had ever been there before, and of course we now smack our heads for having taken so long to go. The museum is perfect. It feels like you are stepping back in time just walking into the first exhibit. The wood framed glass cases, the dried-out, in places stitched together animal hides that often expose the stuffing underneath, the haphazard (at least, in comparison to the modern way of organizing in museums) organization, so that you come to expect the odd juxtaposition: chimp next to whale, thrush next to otter. I may be remembering incorrectly, but I like a museum where a mammal is a mammal, and there isn't any space left for wall sized descriptions of why mammals are important, and what our connection to them might be. Here are the mammals, here are their names. Marvel, and move on, young sir.

Jack loved it, and Libbie loved it and then had a nap. And, as I'm sure most moms and dads would agree, when the kids are happy, everyone is happy.

Kind of on the topic of families and species and manners of organizing, we're doing some re-organizing of our own. You may have noticed some new signs in the aisles of the store. Biography is now "The Examined Life". "Modern Thought" encompasses what used to be Cultural Studies, and most of what used to be Essays. "Here on Earth" was Nature. We were thinking of changing Education to "The Study of Test-Taking Skill Set Enhancement", but that seemed too bleak.
We're attempting to be more specific - a memoir is not a biography, as you know - and more thoughtful. Let us know what you think.

Always let us know what you think!

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