Greensboro Children’s Museum – an Adventure in Distractions

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The opportunity arose to go with my granddaughter, Analise, to the Greensboro Children’s Museum so of course I said “YES!” Little did I realize this would be an adventure into the world of distractions.

The Triad Baptist Christian Academy bus pulled up to the curb and kids filed into the museum’s lobby in a well-ordered manner. They were greeted by the museum hostess and she went over a bit of information including three things the museum hostess warned the kids about. One of them was about not running and even though the kids heard there was no running, their feet might forget. What a great way to get the no running rule down! And of course when their feet forgot about the rule, they were to stop and look down at their feet and tell them there’s no running allowed.

With that and another guide about the kids making sure the adults are behaving and within eyesight (aka do not get lost) they  were set free to explore the museum. With calm demeanor, the kids walked around the wall to the main part of the lobby, then they were released to go hither and yon to explore. That’s when a stranger walking into the museum might have assumed each child was given a bowl of sugar. So much to do and so little time! First this then that! Then that now this! They dispersed within a minute splitting up and running…walking to the first thing that caught their eyes.

Analise stopped right at the beginning…the only one to do so. Here they had a March Madness creative event (basketball for those not familiar with it). They had each team listed and a paper chain started in that team’s color. So Analise added one ring to her favorite teams’, Duke, paper chain. It should be noted however that each time she strolled by this event, she added one ring to UNC then NCSU just to make things competitive (and I think she felt bad for the short chain NCSU had).

We then proceeded into The Market, a grocery store where she grabbed a cart and began shopping for all sorts of goodies…pumpkin bread mix, apples, oranges, bread, cereals, cannellini beans, and more! Then Pa had to play the part of the cashier…of course loaning her money so she could make her purchases. Next we switched roles and I became the shopper and she was the cashier. And yes, we would return to shop later in the morning.

Putting away the food products we exited and went to The Health Center, which included a family dental and health clinic. She became the dental receptionist (several times!) and asked me if I had an appointment, which of course I didn’t. So I said so but that I had a really bad toothache. Enter Dr. Analise. Then “poof” dentistry was done and the health clinic opened. Imagination helped make this a favorite for the kids later in the morning as well with broken legs (the crutches were a big hit), not feeling good, babies, tooth problems, and desires to play doctor, patient and receptionist.

After a while we entered a room that had the cockpit and nose of an airplane. Climbing in we noticed that pilot and co-pilot seats were already taken but there was one of her friends!! Whoo-Hoo! And the exit tube out of the airplane looked so good they immediately dove down it. Pa had to decide to turn around and go down the stairs or go through the exit slide. Yup, exit slide was chosen because it would be “faster.” As I squiggled out of the tube and stood up I heard comments such as “I don’t think I could have gotten out of the that!” but I was much more concerned that my museum buddy had vanished with her friend! Asking which way did she go, I was directed to the Transportation Room which had various vehicles and a climbing wall. So much for watching to make sure the adults didn’t get lost! After what felt  like a dozen minutes but really was less than a minute, “poof” there she was with her friend — class buddies really are cool!

So many kids having so much fun in so many places! Running…er “feet stop running please”…walking quickly from one thing to another, from Main Street to the Outside Climbing area to Water Wonders, it was almost a relief to stop in one area for a while. And that area turned out to be the Outdoor Play Plaza with its imported ropes playground.

With the speed, strength and dexterity of Spiderman, Analise climbed one rope ball activity, went to a rope bridge, and then climbed on the TOP of a monkey bar rope course. She looked up and saw a rope tunnel 25’ in the air and began to make her way upwards toward it. Now being a trusting “Pa” I knew she could do this hands down but there is a bit of a worrier inside who kept moving to catch her should she fall. It turns out, she made the climb easily and arrived at the rope bridge. Going down it was a bit scary for her but she reached the other side and made her way down to the slide. Then of course we had to have an instant replay!

And though we spent three hours in the museum, most of her time was spent in the Outdoor Play Plaza, the Health Center, The Market and the Water Wonders (in that order). The ropes area would have been her preference to finish up the day but it started raining and that ended that activity.

What did we not do? Imagination Station, Mag Wall, Tinker Station, Camping, Nonie’s House and the Construction Zone each had fly-by visits and we did not go out into the Edible Schoolyard (garden area) but she had a great time with her friends flitting here and there in the other areas. A Harlem Globetrotter team member was there and gave a talk but for our intrepid explorers, they wanted to “do” and sitting still was a bit too hard for them. Pretend games of who was the patient, doctor and receptionist cycled through at a dizzying speeds in the Health Center. Climbing activities in the Outdoor Play Plaza, though individual events, were done with each other in mind.

It’s amazing how going to the museum with class friends is so different than just going to it with family. How concentration is shorter due to a friend hailing to do or go to something else. How sitting and playing in one area for any length of time is abbreviated by the thoughts of what might be missed in other areas. And on the other hand, how climbing something scary or being a patient becomes easier with the shouted encouragement of others.

So much like life where one commercial after another vies for attention to get, buy or try something new every 30 seconds; where our books, marketing and cultural philosophy continues to tell me that I’m not good enough just the way I am. And how inspiring it is to have friends and family who help encourage and sometimes pull me along paths I’ve not taken before.

But I still at times flit from this to that whether it is due to my  “training” by the culture I live in or Overloaded Circuits or …oops, my phone is ringing, oh now it’s texting, and lookie here three notifications!  And now someone just wrote something on social media that I have to like or comment on or read or watch or play or….

Yours truly… living in a distracted society.

Attraction Notes:

The Greensboro Children’s Museum is located at 220 North Church Street in Greensboro, NC. Admission  is reasonable and more so if you happen to have an annual pass from another Children’s Museum. Each area inside and outside the building is built to help foster creativity, expand imagination and facilitate exploration. Plan on spending a few hours there if you decide to visit and be aware of the distractive nature of the “next-thing-to-do.” Sit back and watch. Observe those areas that are attention grabbing – it’s different with each child. Be aware of the cacophony of sound if three busloads of students are there at the same time! And be willing to be an active play participant in the imagination games…

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Imagination and exploration are active components of the Greensboro Children's Museum.