The Met and the vet

Even when it’s a school holiday, I usually forge ahead. Especially since having kids, I feel all the more sure that time is slipping past, writing is not getting done, and every three-day weekend needs to be seized as a chance to write a bit more, to catch up (with what? sometimes I wonder).

I don’t quite know why I decided, against my workaholic ways, to take today off. It’s true that I am tired beyond tired, so tired that the tears were flowing down my cheeks the other day and I was powerless to stop them.

In any case, I did the supremely indulgent thing of sending the toddler off to daycare and taking the kindergartener into the Met. We had a spiral notebook and a mesh bag of colored pencils for her. We quickly suss each gallery for a place to draw. She chooses a work of art—preferring three- to two-dimensions—and begins sketching. I have time to read and study every work of art at great leisure before she’s done with a single sketch. We walk quickly through a few rooms and then it’s time to sketch again.

I haven’t had such a leisurely visit to the Met in years. We caught the last day of “Art and Love in the Renaissance,” lingering over cradles and birth bowls, moving more quickly through the room devoted to courtesans (although a majolica platter featuring a head made of a collage of penises did make us both giggle); some Impressionist paintings (including Degas’ sculpture of the 14-year-old dancer); the shark in a tank (which she found terrifying and puzzling “why would you want to make art that upsets people mommy?”); Egyptian art, including, of course, the Temple of Dendur.

By then, it was time for lunch. After all this sophistication, all our chat about the jubilant brushstrokes of Monet and how this or that painting looked slightly pointillist, she chose the taxicab: a dozen chicken nuggets, a bag of Lay’s, and a juice box served in a cardboard box that looks like a taxicab. She drove it around the table, making “stops” to pick up nuggets and chips, in spite of my pleas that the table might have germs on it. She is still six, after all.

We had a totally amazingly fun day. It is so immensely great to have such a companion: I feel overwhelmingly lucky and also sheepish to take such pleasure in my own child.

And lest I feel any pang of guilt over playing hooky, I remind myself that the day began cleaning up after a sick dog and ended at the vet’s office, getting medicine for same. She is fine. One of the most amazing and hard things about adulthood is the sheer relentlessness of life: even on a day dedicated to art and ease, there is a load of laundry to cycle through, ditto for the dishwasher, and a sick dog to clean up after.

Happy President’s Day!