Taking Back Spaces

Last weekend, I had family in from out of town (out of country -- Guelph, ON). It was my cousin-ish/niece-ish - my stepfather's brother's daughter who is 21 and finishing up her university degree. The title is tricky only because my parents are only 20 years older than me, and there's a gap between my stepfather and his brother which results in him being only 7 years older than me, so it didn't necessarily feel "uncle-y." 

Anyway. She came to visit and we spent the day together -- she'd bought tickets to the Strong National Museum of Play, which I haven't been to in a VERY long time. For somewhat obvious reasons. 

You know what's kind of amazing? I didn't even think about it until we got there, that this was a place FULL of families, of strollers, of toddlers toddling about, a virtual center of everything I will never have for myself. And when I realized, oh yeah, this is a major parent/child/family place, I just kind of shrugged it off. I DID NOT FEEL SAD AT ALL, NOT ONE BIT. 

Me and my anonymous "niece-ish" -- in front of the Sesame Street stoop

One reason was probably that we were running around like lunatics, touching and playing with all the things. Climbing up into the giant's beanstalk lair, or into the pirate ship/Robinson Crusoe treehouse. Sorting wooden veggies in Peter Rabbit's garden by shape and color. Oh I'm sorry, tiny child, you will have to wait your turn to play "Ode to Joy" with your feet on the giant Big-esque floor piano! The 20- and 40- somethings have their turn! It's not like we were rampaging the place, but we definitely had a lot of interactive fun and it was goofy. 

Every once in a while I felt like maybe we were looked at crossways, like why were we here with no children (we were probably the only ones minus a very few tourists from out of town)? But I did not worry about it much. It is a museum of play, and you know who has fun playing? EVERYFREAKINGBODY. Why not enjoy the displays with giant sliding puzzles and floor pianos and a laser harp that irritated me because the high pitches were on the long "strings" and the low pitches were on the short "strings," which makes NO SENSE? 

Except there were some things that apparently change when you get older. There was a house you can go up into and across and it is full of illusion stuff that makes you feel all wonky, and there is a railing on the side so you can clutch it, which I NEVER HAD TO DO BEFORE, but holy crap something in my brain has shifted since I last went. There's a little window on the side, with a sign that says, "look through -- if you are dizzy, don't enter as you could fall." Well, did I listen? NO. And I hung on to that railing for dear life as though I was on the edge of a building because my brain could not reconcile the illusion and told me I was falling the entire time. I didn't fall, which is good. 

They also had a thing called the High Line or Sky Line or something like that that was a harnessed climbing adventure above the carousel, and I wanted to do it SO BADLY until Bryce reminded me before I left the house that I am still recovering from a rotator cuff shoulder injury, and perhaps it would be smart to skip something that could aggravate it. DAMMIT. Next time, harness climbing thing, next time. 

The second floor had a timeline of toys and a display of Barbies through the years, as well as this absolutely terrifying doll: 

SHE IS COMING FOR YOU IN YOUR DREAMS. There was a lady that was taking a picture of it too, because her mom ACTUALLY HAD this doll, and she was like, "it was the creepiest thing ever, and I think it disappeared and we never did find it." It's probably wandering an attic somewhere, waiting to terrorize some other family. 

The other half was an arcade -- tons of video games throughout the ages, including Frogger, Centipede, Tetris, pinball machines -- you needed tokens to play so I totally got some and we had a great time! They had a giant Tetris that we absolutely sucked at, but took up most of a wall. 

It was a really fun day (followed by lunch and then a trip to my tiny independent book store), that fed our inner kids. We laughed, we acted like goofs, and NOT ONCE did I feel sad that I wasn't there with my own small child. I think people think of this museum as for families only, but I can honestly say that I had a blast. I don't think I'll make a habit out of it, but it felt freeing to take a space that I had felt was no longer for me and reclaim it for my own fun. 


  1. That doll is really creepy! But I want to go now too. Aaah, Frogger and Tetris, how I loved them back in the early 1990s! I remember being exhausted from work, playing Tetris on a hand-held device by the pool at Club Med Bali in 1992. lol

    So glad you had a good time, and as you say, reclaimed a place for yourself. Brava!

  2. Gahhh this sounds like so much!! I would be right there with you two doing all the things. I love to play.

    Except the doll. I do not want to play with that doll. That doll is terrifying lol.