Kids These Days
By Andrea Elovson
Where can you "crawl through skin, boogie through blood cells and
listen to your own heart beat?" I'll give you a hint: It's in New York
and it's not the subway. Give up? Then it's high time you head over to The
Children's Museum of Manhattan. (CMOM, if you're in the know.) It's a unique
date destination offering you the chance to play with your children while
playing the field. Whether you're a single parent or dating one, invest
a few hours at CMOM--you'll never look at nose hairs the same way again.
This is no Picasso exhibit; you can start anywhere. Five floors are bursting
with delightful, daring and, well, downright disgusting stuff. Many of the
exhibits and workshops are interactive, so skip your Sunday best.
On the first floor, you'll find "Body Odyssey," CMOM's newest
science exhibit. Here children and grown-ups alike can cozy up to the juices,
gases and creatures that occupy or innards. Kids can scramble up an enormous
tongue and into the passageways of the human body at "Get Into the
Guts." At "Blood from Bones," children learn about the formation
of red blood cells by sliding down an enormous bone on red corpuscle pillows.
The exhibit "What's In the Air You Breathe" should cure little
Tyler of that finger-in-the-nose problem. There, children uncover the mysteries
of mucus by dropping globs of plastic snot into a large nose and seeing
how the sticky stuff filters the dirt and pollution from the air we breathe.
(Then again, this may cause the younguns to redouble their efforts.)
Not speaking of boogers, there are a number of cool exhibits geared towards
those concerned (or at least curious) about what they eat. "A Burger
Breaks Down" shows what happens to that Big Mac you just ate as it
makes its way through your digestive tract (again, as far as encouragement/discouragement,
could go either way).
My personal favorite was a computer game I wish I had at home. Just click
on any item in an interactive refrigerator and up pops its fat, sugar and
caloric content. The object is to build a meal that includes, for example,
less than 10 grams of fat but more than six grams of fiber. After a couple
of rounds, my SAT scores started to look good in comparison.
Heading upstairs to the second floor, you'll find a number of exhibits
and activities for children ages 1 month to four years old. These include
"Word Play," a word friendly "town" that introduces
toddlers to the building blocks of language. The Early Childhood Arts Center
and Theater on the third floor offer small ones the chance to paint, act
and sing to their heart's content.
The Time Warner Media Center on the fourth floor gives children of all
ages a behind the scenes look at television production. A respite for parents
-- maybe even parents seeking partners -- can be found just down the hall
at "Real Love: The Drawings for Sean," an exhibit of original
drawings and poems by John Lennon. Bribe your kids into giving you five
more minutes to see a series of armchairs decorated by celebrities like
Bill Cosby, Rosie O'Donnell, and Bette Middler.
Before reclaiming your stroller and diaper bag, take a minute to visit
the basement and the Dr. Seuss retrospective. Learn how Ted Geisel's love
of hats inspired his most famous stories and how this graduate school dropout
became known as "Dr." Seuss. The original drawing, sketches and
biographical information bring this literary legend to life while supplying
you with some impressive --rhyming, even -- cocktail party tid-bits.
By the end of the afternoon, you won't need a twelve-foot inflatable
stomach to tell you you're hungry. Skip the Big Mac (how easily we forget)
and head across the street to Café Lalo where you can play with your
food, eat with your fingers and dive head first into the mud pie.
(The Children's Museum of Manhattan: The Tisch Building 212 West 83rd
Street New York, New York 10024. (212) 721-1234. By subway take the #1 or
the #9 to 79th Street. Public Parking garages on West 83rd street. Hours:
Wed-Sunday 10:00-5:00. Call for summer hours, admission prices and a brochure
of additional programs and workshops or visit CMOM here).
Andrea Elovson is a documentary filmmaker who is still looking for
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