good with kids
(originally posted 9/10/2012)
So I was asked to chaperone a trip to the local art museum for a group of pre-school kids and, like an idiot, agreed to do it. I arrive and like something out of a bad sitcom I’m suddenly ass-deep in small kids. We walk over and get herded into a conference room while the museum finishes exhuming our two tour guides. We get saddled with the older of the relics, smelling of a liberal amount of ‘Really Old Spice’, and he begins to shuffle us through the galleries. Like our guide, it got old fast and the kids were getting restless… as was I. We entered a new hall and the guide asked the group if anyone knew what Abstract art was. I raised my hand. He called on me. His first mistake of the day.
“Abstract art is for people who want to be artists but can’t paint” I offered.
Mort was unamused. “Incorrect” and then he went on to define it in such a way that made the kids immediately side with me. We then slid up to a painting that seemed to me that anyone on this planet with enough money to afford the brush, the paint, the canvas, and a skull bong could have painted. Mort bravely started to ask what the kids saw in the painting. After about 27,503 answers, each stranger than the next, Mort was getting rattled. Trying to steer the kids in the right direction he then asked “what musical instrument do you see in this painting?” A fresh-faced young lad shot his hand up and answered “a turkey” to much giggling. Trying to regain his composure Mort asked another sweet little boy and the boy answered “a turkey”. Pandemonium began to break out as a dozen small hands shot up into the air. Amid the cacophony of children’s laughter I quietly raised my hand and Mort was only too happy to call on me. Mort repeated the question to me as our eyes locked and after a short pause I looked at Mort and said “a turkey”. Howls of laughter rang through the museum as I basked in the glow of my new-found godhood status with the pre-schoolers! The teachers and other parents glared at me for such a gross violation of the chaperone code but it made no difference to me. The kids loved me!
By the time we began our walk through the outdoor garden to look at the sculptures I had a bigger following than Mort. I patiently explained to the kids the difference between ‘real’ sculptures and hunks of crap welded together by talentless frauds. I was in my element and not a fellow parent dared to correct me. It was then that a young man let out a yelp and started to wave his hand around as if it were badly burned. It turned out that a bug had landed on it and he didn’t like bugs. I thought that this would be a good opportunity to explain that only wimpy kids freak out about bugs landing on them and I was sure that this lesson would serve them all well as they went through life. Then it happened… a chance to put my words into action. Not two minutes later a bee landed on my arm. The children gasped in awe as I did not panic or flail around. Instead I calmly explained that bees are our friends and that he was only landing on me to see if he could find any pollen. The children gathered around me to watch our new friend walk up and down my arm. Then the bee stung me.
“FUCKER!” Little mouths fell open around me as I became a whirling blur of squeals and profanity. “Fuck this hurts! How the fuck does a little fucker like that sting so fucking bad?” I queried perhaps a little too loudly. Teachers and parents hustled in to begin psychological damage control as I waved my throbbing limb around in an attempt to stop the agony. Then I did something that I regret. Miffed at the balls of this bee I then ran into the middle of the flower bed and began punching and kicking the offenders brethren. In the course of taking my revenge on all that was yellow-and-black-striped I may have also decapitated some innocent tulips… I’m not sure. It all went by so fast.
After I was retrieved by the parents and brought back into the museum to rejoin the tour no doubt my status with the kids had taken a blow. They were back to paying attention to Mort. Crusty old Mort! In fact, at some point during a discussion of colors he told the children that most artists have a favorite color… and added that he takes a lot of pictures and his favorite color to shoot was red. Then one of the girls asked if he was an artist. Before he could answer I barked out “No, he’s a tour guide”. The look of hurt on old Mort’s face was terrible to behold. But pretty funny.
Finally it was time to leave. I collected my charges and began the blissful walk out of the museum. As I had one step out the door a museum worker thrust a certificate into the hands of one of my boys and said it was good for one free art class at the museum.
“No thanks” I said as I crumpled it up in my hand. “He’s straight.”