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How to Spoil a Perfectly Good Thing

July 30, 2013

We have been regular attenders at the Museum of Play for eight years. We have been blessed with a membership and so feel pretty free to come and go for short stints, not needing to get our moneys worth every time. Although all of my kids have been babies and toddlers at the museum, we have rarely had problems. When I say problems, I mean broken down whiny kids or tantrums. Most of that is just because my kids know that we will be back and whatever we don’t get to one day will be there next time. To a lesser degree, it is probably because of some strategic traditions we have: namely, riding one ride on the way out, with the child most apt to act up choosing whether we hit the train or the carousel. We haven’t actually ridden anything in a long time–that tradition just isn’t needed anymore.

I seriously love the museum. Getting a membership there is one of the first things I tell newcomers to the area to look into.

There was a definite shift in patrons when they opened the arcade upstairs–all of a sudden teenagers were there. And people who just ACTED like teenagers. Since I don’t like paying MORE once inside the museum and I knew that most of the arcade games would be an exercise in frustration for my kids, I kept them away for a long time. Recently, we have made limited forays with a few tokens each and we mostly end up at the air hockey table, so I can hardly complain. It’s really not my favorite exhibition, but I can understand the appeal and the place it has in play history.

Today, Lily had a playdate with a friend, so we had a boys afternoon. The boys wanted to lunch at Dogtown and go to the “boy” exhibits at the museum. In truth, they called any exhibit they liked a “boy” exhibit, but as we passed the temporary space, I noticed more arcade games in there. They wanted to look around, and I offered to get a few tokens for them. Now this was my stupid move: I stuck a $20 bill in the token machine before I realized that this machine JUST gives, tokens, not change. So yeah, I have enough tokens for the rest of our lives. With the plethora of tokens, we were a little loose with them. Amos started off on a cool Empire Strikes Back game and then took a liking to the pinball machines. Sweet. Soon enough, though, he realized that SOME games gave tickets. Then it became all about the tickets. Not interested in ANY game that didn’t yield some of those pretty pretty tickets. That’s a shame. But the REAL problem came when it was time to leave. They have a prize booth. Why?! Amos totally melted down when he wanted BOTH a ridiculous tiny rubber duck and stupid smiley-face ball. Tears. On the floor. Inability to speak. Over crap! Total garbage. We had to leave–he just couldn’t function with the disappointment of having to choose between two stupid prizes.

The great thing about the museum WAS that it was a venue for experiences, not consumption. Add in crappy prizes, and it’s just another stadium of heartbreak.

BTW summer reading programs ruin libraries, too. My kids are perfectly happy reading and picking out books under normal circumstances. Enter tiny prizes and it becomes a nightmare of disappointment and “no fairs!” I’d prefer dentists didn’t give prizes, either. Such a grinch! Needless to say, I don’t do allowance either–prizes ruin everything!

Museum: we’ll be back when the NEXT exhibit comes.

PJ: Gentlemanly behavior today, son. You are to be commended!

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ganie permalink
    July 31, 2013 12:59 am

    I just went to the Museum of Play for the first time yesterday, with a friend from Montreal with whom I’m working on a study of sibling and friend pretend play. I was really struck by (and disappointed at) the plethora of arcade and video games, though I’m relieved to hear that apparently some of them are only temporary. We also noticed that it has *way* too many flashing lights.

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