012421 Human Condition (toned)

A couple of months ago, before Thanksgiving, I had the joy of taking my two youngest kids, ages 8 and 4, to the Louisiana Children’s Museum in New Orleans.

We are members, but due to COVID and its many effects, the museum has remained mostly closed, and we have chosen to avoid most public play spaces lately. When I saw the museum was open for a Saturday morning, a morning when my husband and oldest son would be hunting, I knew I had to seize the chance and take my kids. This was before the uptick in cases, and I’m so thankful we enjoyed that opportunity while it was not as risky.

I thought I was doing this for my kids. I thought I was giving them a chance to visit a place they have missed, to see other kids, play with different toys and enjoy a day in City Park. However, shortly after we arrived, I realized how much I needed this.

My oldest son recently turned 12, and in those 12 years we’ve always enjoyed the many opportunities this city offers families. The zoo, aquarium, art museums, parks, children's museum, festivals and so forth. I am always looking for a new adventure. When COVID changed the way we saw those opportunities (too much touching, not enough social distancing) we adapted by playing at home and enjoying more solo recreation.

As I enjoyed a quiet Saturday morning in the sun-filled art space of LCM with my daughter happily creating and my son attentively listening to me read "The Lorax," I realized we can’t re-create this at home.

We don’t have an art studio, full body bubble maker or water tables that emulate the mighty Mississippi, all placed among creatively curated art exhibits.

This space excites and ignites creativity in my kids, and also puts me in touch with my inner child (I’ve definitely become more reflective in quarantine). Suddenly I remember how many of our home art projects and displays were inspired after visits to LCM and other public art spaces. I need to see fresh perspectives to have my creativity tickled, stirred, provoked.

While at home, caregivers are the facilitators of play, but in spaces like this we get to play, enjoying all that has been designed and carefully thought out for our creative enjoyment.

Thank you to all who continue to work within the necessary safety parameters of this strange time to provide moments of joy, wonderment and delight. I think for the first time I’ve truly paused to reflect on how necessary those moments are. They provide necessary nourishment for the soul.

I need a whimsical display of colorful fishing nets hanging overhead to get me to look up and change the way I look at things.

— Kaiser lives in Metairie

Advocate readers may submit stories of about 500 words to The Human Condition at features@theadvocate.com or The Advocate, Living, 10705 Rieger Road, Baton Rouge, LA 70809. There is no payment, and stories will be edited. Authors should include their city of residence, and, if writing about yourself, a photo.