12 January 2010

family dance

only in bloomington would there be a big, family-friendly dance in the middle of winter, right in the neighborhood, in the gymnasium of harmony school. it was sunday afternoon. it was cold. it is not easy to get cosmo out of the house in such weather. but i am so glad we did.

live music, easy, group dances, led by a gentle woman, who clearly knew what she was doing.
the place was packed with adults and children of all ages, sizes and abilities. the repetitive nature of the dances allowed everyone to pick things up at her own pace, and the entire event was about having fun. not about showing off dance skills, or even learning to dance. it was about community, and inclusion, and running around in a big space, in the dead of winter with family and friends.

cosmo was intrigued at the beginning, but didn't want to hit the dance floor right away. after one dance, i pulled him out there, held him, and swung him round and round at the "swing your partner" part. he giggled with glee, and was in for the rest of the time. he clung pretty close to carl and i, refused to partner with anyone but us, but he did participate and declared afterwards that it was "really fun." i know we will be going to the next one (and, i will bring my camera). if you live in town, hope to see you there.

04 January 2010

home for the holidays

as excited as i was to not be traveling for the holidays, by the end of the 2 week break from cosmo's pre-school, i thought my head might explode (to coin a julie phrase). it seemed like cosmo hit some new, belligerent phase (i've recently heard the term "ferocious fours" does this ring a bell with anyone?) just as the break began. the three of us cooped-up in the house, eating holiday sweets, for days on end was not working--for any of us. the bitter cold weather wasn't exactly inviting us to leave the house, but carl and i realized pretty quickly that we had to be pro-active, and make plans to get out and do something every day.

so, when cosmo and i weren't making cookies, gingerbread houses, or this caramel popcorn; and when carl and cosmo weren't busy playing checkers, or constructing elaborate marble mazes, we took little outings.

on christmas day, we went for a walk on the clear creek trail. apparently, the 15 minutes of physical exercise, in the great outdoors was just too exhausting for cosmo, so he had to be carried on carl's shoulders for a good portion of it--until i came up with a "catch me if you can" game, and we all ran the last stretch back to the car.

we went to the wonderlab one day, and on another day, we resorted to going to the mall. the mall can be sort of entertaining, if you aren't actually shopping. i'm always up for people-watching, and we got a bouncy ball from one of the gumball-style machines, and rolled it down the ramps (keeping our eyes peeled for mall cops, of course; cosmo actually got busted for this once before). then carl and cosmo rode the escalator at macy's, up and down a good 10-20 times while i browsed the hand bag section and felt relieved that my particular taste exempts me from being tempted by high priced, fashionable leather goods.

my favorite thing we ended up doing over the break was a day trip to indy, to the children's museum. it was insanely crowded, and we, frankly, didn't plan well. we arrived, hungry, around noon, and thought we'd pop into the museum cafe for a quick bite. we grabbed some pre-made sandwiches, got through the line, and headed into the seating area.

i liked the idea of eating by the big windows, but there was not a single seat available, at any table, anywhere, in the entire (huge) dining room. it felt like i was back in the high school cafeteria, searching frantically for a friendly face, or just an open chair. we ended up sitting on the floor, by a couch, and having sort of a picnic (that's what we told cosmo, when he protested). the food was, surprisingly, decent.

it was worth fighting the crowds. we had never been before, and though we saw only a tiny fraction of the sprawling fun-land, we all had a great time. carl and i were very relaxed, and let cosmo lead the way. we started on the fourth floor, where the carousel is. we went through the mirror maze, and then cosmo discovered a holiday themed, dickensonion diorama-type-thing, where people were moving past shop windows of a miniature town, on a track, or belt. he was utterly fascinated by it. there were also kids sledding down a hill, also on a track. he could not stop looking at it, and he wanted to know where the little figures went, and how the whole thing worked, and i tried to lift him up so he could see more of the mechanics of the thing...but it was mostly concealed.

he waited patiently in line to ride the carosel, and insisted on riding it alone, then he headed straight back to that diaorama! he would have stayed there the rest of the day, but we finally convinced him to check out some other areas, and we moved to the science room. he stopped short at the entrance, where the kinetic-contraption-ball-run-machine was.

i swear to you, he was at that thing for an hour, or more. we peeled him away to move some rubber rocks around in a hopper, but he really just wanted to be at that "marble maze." it was very similar to the one they have at the wonderlab, but the input points, where the kids get to make things happen, were much more engaging and interactive. cosmo was really good at waiting patiently for his turn to move some nob, or push a button, and after he had been at one for a while, he would graciously move away for another kid to have a turn. at some point, he told carl, "i just wanna watch," and he did. forEVER.

i guess a place like this, with so many different kinds of activities to choose from, presents the opportunity to learn something new about your kid. it was one of those moments for me, where i realized that my child is his own person, with his own predilections, and passions. i've known for a long time that he likes marble mazes, but here, it was really striking to see JUST HOW MUCH he loves these kinds of things, even in the face of all this other very cool stuff. i stood there, against an adjacent pane of plexi-glass, and watched him, watching the contraption. i was as amazed by him as he must have been by that machine. i shed a few tears, and when it was time to leave, so did cosmo.