Friday, October 24, 2014

The National Gallery of Art: Degas's Little Dancer (or I See Puppies!)

So yesterday was Cam's annual school field trip to the pumpkin patch, a trip I'm sure many of you are making right around this time as well. It's a great idea, but given that I've been spending so much time on the road in the car, I thought we'd have a more local field trip of our own. Cameron has been intermittently obsessed with ballet and even though she's not currently taking any classes, I thought a trip to see Degas's Little Dancer at the National Gallery would be a perfect girls' morning.

We got down to The Mall early and spent some chilly time playing "I Spy," counting all the steps of the museum repeatedly (there are 43), and skipping stones as we waited for the Gallery to open. I thought there might be some crowds, so we headed straight to the Degas exhibit upon opening. Where Cam spent all of 5 seconds humoring me to pose with Little Dancer and then telling me she'd rather go back outside to play "I Spy." She was not at all interested in any of the ballet artwork. Fail.

Never one to quit, I suggested we take our own "I Spy" tour of the Gallery (a favorite way of mine to encourage the kids to stay in museums and actually look around instead of whining) and I asked her what she'd like to look for. "Puppies. Only puppies." She's been having a hard time with the death of our family dog and her good bud, Vegas, this past summer and for some reason has been bringing it up a lot lately. It half makes me want to get another puppy. And then I snap right out of that. In any event, puppies she wanted. No problem. I knew the British and French galleries would have lots of them (those people loved to paint themselves with their animals), so we headed that way.

I spent the next hour wandering after her as she called from various rooms "More puppies!" and catching glimpses of her through looming doorways. And it dawned on me that I hadn't actually taken her by herself to an art museum in quite some time and I finally didn't really have to pay any attention to making sure she was behaving -- looking, but not trying to touch; keeping her voice down; politely indulging foreign tourists' requests for photos with her (seriously. I don't know who they think she is, but this happens every. damn. time. we are at the National Gallery). She is so grown up all of a sudden. And it made me really glad I let her skip the school trip for a little time on our own. I first started the blog as a way to chronicle my attempts to fill the long days home with them and now it seems like they're hardly home (despite the numerous, numerous days off of school).

We spent the rest of the morning noshing salads and tattooing each other with her new tattoo pens in front of the lovely fountain downstairs. I even got to have an extra cappuccino while she inked herself. The perfect way to spend the day playing hooky.