‘Children and Art’- (‘Sunday in the Park with George’- Sondheim)

“Ah yes, The National Gallery in the centre of London- The perfect place to take a toddler” Said no-one ever! Or so I thought… Well my Dad was down in London last week just overnight, and he had a train booked home for late afternoon the day after his meeting, so his (obvious?!) suggestion was to meet for a cuppa was the National Gallery in Trafalgar Square. Yes it was close to Charing Cross, so easy for us as we get off our train straight from our home station, only 35 mins away. So technichally yes, it was an OK suggestion so far. Then we go into the café (not the posh part I might add) and don’t see any high chairs or any other children (It was a Wednesday morning, so not so unusual) so Dad goes to ask for a high chair. We get one (quite easily actually we were both just being blind!) and then get our refreshments. Then Dad suggests actually going intothe Gallery, with said toddler and let her have a ‘wander’ (probably part of his plan all along, I was just the mother who tries to say yes at any opportunity, rather than find an excuse through my apprehension). I’m literally saying “are you sure this is a good idea Dad?” as we slump off to find the nearest lift up to the artwork. My fears are the ones where we’re told she’s making too much noise, or getting in people’s way and she toddles around or accidentally touches something she’s not supposed to… Toddler is back in her pushchair at this point as getting to the lift didn’t look very near (in fact it wasn’t far at all), and I didn’t want to risk her legging it to the nearest exit or towards danger!

Back before having a child, I would have thought nothing of just strolling around a gallery or suggesting it as somewhere to meet up and maybe checking out the latest exhibitions. Living and working in London for so long, I did become a tad complacent and took it for granted that we had these places on our doorstep. Theatre is obviously more my cup of tea, but I did like to be cultured in other ways too.

So once we were at the top and in the upstairs foyer, Dad and I decide to let the munchkin out of the pushchair into the (relative) freedom (so she thinks-wearing reins) of the gallery. I shouldn’t have worried! It was actually really fun. Toddler loved stomping around the place and looking up at the big pictures of animals (“Wow” to the picture of the horse) and the groups of tourists actually found her very amusing. (I overheard a few “aww”s). She can be pretty entertaining (obviously not song and dance just yet…) and I loved being the mummy showing my little one round a place like that (or being pulled around).  In some of the rooms were groups of school children and students milling around with their notebooks and chatting away loudly, so I just found it funny when toddler started shouting and getting excited about the big rooms and saying “Tiger” at the ‘Surprised! (Tiger in a Tropical Storm)’ painting (omg she’s just so clever…!). Makes me really appreciate her cuteness and how lucky I am to have her. She makes me laugh so much and on days like that it just makes all the struggles of getting out of the house, and keeping her happy and fed, so worthwhile.

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I don’t think we’ll make a habit of it, but I will definitely take her to places like that again. What’s the worst that could happen ‘ey? And if anyone does say something, or looks down their nose at us at least we can say “They let us do that at the National Gallery”!

(And thanks to my Dad for taking us out of my comfort zone! x)

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