Tales from Children’s Museum X

This is the first post in a five-part guest post series.

Wendy N. Wagner grew up in the same nutty family as Kristina Martin, and seems to be graying at the same rate. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies The Way of the Wizard and Rigor Amortis, and (forthcoming) in Beneath Ceaseless Skies magazine. Her first novel is being released by a small press in Fall 2011. She is also the Assistant Editor of Fantasy Magazine. For no known reason, her husband and daughter love her despite the neglect and the constant influx of germs. You can keep up with Wendy on http://operabuffo.blogspot.com.

Like most of the truly great writers, I have a dayjob to pay my bills. I’ve been working at an undisclosed location–we’ll call it Children’s Museum X to protect its identity–for five years now. That’s right. I’ve willingly continued to clock in three to four days a week (hey, it’s just part-time until I get that best-seller!) at a place where, annually, close to two hundred thousand children come to scream.

Since this is a say-anything kind of blog, I thought I’d share the real dirt on my real life and the wonderful array of folks I’ve gotten to meet on the job.

  1. It is possible to take potty training too seriously. There was a woman who whipped out the portable potty and dropped her daughter’s drawers right in front of me, signing her credit card slip at the same time she wiped. I used a tissue to put that slip in the front of my till bag as a special treat for our unpleasant accountant. (That accountant unexplainably quit. And our new accountant is a gem.)
  2. Little boys’ aim is not aided by tiny toilets with cute rims. It’s not aided by Cheerios in the toilet or goldfish or any of that other stuff you throw in there either. But you, Mom in the High Heels and Fake Lashes, could help everyone by wiping off the rim, the handle, and the wall after he’s done not aiming.
  3. Kids have inexplicable urges, just like adults. Grown-ups do crazy things like drive recklessly and gamble. Children lick counters. And statues. And stamp the insides of their lips. No one gets hurt when kids do these things, and Kleenex stock rises.
  4. Glitter is the herpes of the craft world.
  5. The scientific name for the trails of snot beneath a kids’ nose is “The Green Eleven.”
  6. Strangely enough, two pairs of thong underwear have been turned into the lost and found. No one ever called about them, either.
  7. We use walkie-talkie radios to communicate with staff around the building. Here are some of my favorite radio calls:
  • The day of the Audubon Society presentation: “Operations, we have an owl protein spill in the theater.”
  • In a traveling exhibit: “Farmer Pickle’s Blue Ball Machine is jammed.”
  • “I’m looking for a two year old wearing a cape and no pants.”
  • While closing the museum: “You guys, oh my god, you’ve got to come see this. There is poop in the oven. I repeat, someone pooped in the oven.”

Yep. It’s a dangerous job–but somebody’s got to amuse the children.

8 thoughts on “Tales from Children’s Museum X

  1. True story. When my granddaughter was making good process on toilet training and moving from “potty chair” to “potty seat” on the toilet, she suddenly had a relapse and refused to use the toilet. Her mommy eventually figured out the problem. One day Mommy had flushed a big spider down the toilet. Granddaughter, recalled the pre-school song, “The Spider Goes up the Spider Spout,” decided No way my bottom is sitting over that spider spout.

    When toilet training was expanded to an explanation of the true nature of flushing, toilet training proceeded well once again.

    Further progress: when she was four years old, one day we heard a frantic cry from the bathroom. “There’s a big spider in here!” was the cry. Mommy started to head for the bathroom. Then we heard a flush, followed by a little voice saying, “Never mind. I handled it.”

    She’s seven years old now and big for her age. If some other first grader gives her a hard time on the school yard, I am a little worried what the teacher will find if she comes into the classroom and says, “Never mind that Bobby was picking on me; I handled it.”

  2. Kids don’t just have inexplicable urges, they have moments of utter madness which beggars belief no matter how much you love them – licking things, sniffing things, and eating random items are the tip of the iceberg…

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