Where: Minneapolis Institute of Art's Family Center
Age of Bap Boy: 2.75
So back on New Year's Day my family and friends of ours hung out in the Family Center space at the Minneapolis Institute of Art and were the only families in there. Needless to say it was a very chill experience.
Then, this last weekend we went again and because it was the museum's family day, it was packed with people. That's fine. We're used to crowded kid play spaces in Minnesota. What WASN'T fine was the fact that some kids around the age of 7 were jumping about from couch to cushion, taking up a big chunk of the room and getting impatient with my 2 year old. I understand that they have a right to play, too...but they don't get to act like they own the space. We're not guests in their home...we're ALL guests of the museum. Furthermore, from what I can see, the space isn't designed to be like an indoor playground. (Maybe that's just me though.)
I didn't see any signage that laid out the rules and expectations for the room, or if there's an age limit for the space. When the 7 year olds became bossy toward my 2 year old telling him to "get out of the way" I intervened and said he can play in the same area as them because this is a public space. I gently encouraged my child to try not to stand right in the center of their activity because he could get hurt, but I also said to the 7 year olds that they don't get to determine whether or not he's in the same area as him!
Then, their father stood up and came toward us and said that my son could just watch out and let them keep playing as they are. I was so taken aback at this man's rudeness. Huh? Shouldn't he be saying that his kids should share the space? Instead he made me feel like I was the jerk for insisting that the kids share the space and be mindful of each other. It's like he was irritated that my 2 year old was in their way.
Now, I get that sometimes there’s a time and place for 2 year olds to be involved. If it’s clearly a play area for older kids and he’s trying to play there, as his mother I tell him it’s not a safe place for him. But this is a room that is called “Family Room” That tells me that families are welcome. Even families with infants and toddlers. “Family Room” with blocks and cushions doesn’t communicate to me that it’s a space for older kids (older meaning over 5) get to jump around and take over the room. As far as I could see, it was a space designed for less active activity. I wanted to tell the Dad that he could take his kids to Good Times Park in Eagan if they wanted to engage in that kind of jumping around and that he should leave my toddler alone to play in a room meant for young kids as well, doing less active movement. But I didn’t.
A few moments later, another woman said loudly to the 7 year olds, “Please stop that jumping around. This room isn’t meant for that kind of activity.” The kids stopped and the dad of these kids just looked disgruntled but didn’t say anything else.
I write all of this to say that what is probably a pleasant space for kids most of the time can easily become a less than pleasant space when these things happen. MIA, I beg you to have your staff check in on this space and help police these kinds of things better. Or, have very obvious signage saying what you hope and expect from parents and kids in this room. Conflicts like this just leave a bad taste in my mouth and now I associate the space with a rude man who actually encouraged his kids to keep dominating the space over the other little ones in the room. RUDE!