Me, the kids and my dad went to the V&A Museum of Childhood today in Bethnal Green, which is pretty much the opposite side of London to us and not the easiest to get to with Boy Lacer, which is why we’d never been before. This summer has marked a lot more trips out without the pushchair but even without the pushchair, today’s journey had its challenges, from crotchety old gits not appreciating what with Boy Lacer’s hypotonia, (in all probability) dyspraxia, ASD and the very fact that he’s five, he is not going to sit that still and actually all things considering, Boy Lacer was actually quite well behaved and was only occasionally swinging his legs and his feet were only brushing the old git’s trouser legs, the very trouser legs which were actually taking up most of the floor space between the seats anyway! Then there were escalators and travelators that Boy Lacer didn’t like and too noisy tube trains at frequencies guaranteed to send Boy Lacer curled up into a ball. But, anyway, we got there eventually.
We went straight for lunch, as usual with museums and galleries in London, the food there is now delicious but expensive (which is better than it had been a few years ago when it had been gross but expensive). This time the trendy chain with the contract was Benugo, which has a nice sandwich shop I like to frequent in Westfield, so it was nice to see them at the museum to. They did nice (but expensive) kid meal bags, muffins that were actually muffins (not the overprocessed stodge that are most common when out and about in London) and some delicious looking hot meals, like the most gorgeous looking macaroni and yummy sausage rolls which scandalised my dad with their price (but he does live in North Wales).
After we’d eaten we went to look at the exhibits, it was interesting for me and my dad to go and see toys we remembered from mine and my sister’s childhood (god I am so old) and from his childhood but the kids, despite Boy Lacer having been fascinated for months about what children did in the olden days (I think his definition of the olden days is anything pre-computers), weren’t particularly in a museum mood today, although they enjoyed a few of the activities, although some of them were broken.
The main reason why we went to the museum was because we wanted to catch the Judith Kerr retrospective before it closed (on 4th September). Judith Kerr is one of those author-illustrators who both me and the kids know well (especially The Tiger Who Came To Tea, which is one of the books Girl Lacer ‘studied’ in Year 1, which is a book I hope Boy Lacer will also get to do now that he’s about to enter the same class Girl Lacer was in). Judith Kerr books have often come home, over the years, as sharing books from playgroup / nursery / reception (awww just realised that now with Boy Lacer entering Key Stage 1 i don’t think there will be any more sharing books :( ) but we’ve never actually bought any of her books, which is an amazing omission considering that if you go into their bedroom probably one of the first things you’ll do is trip over the permanent avalanche of books they have in there. I am not kidding, they probably have at least one book from all the major picture book writers (and pretty much the entire back catalogue of Julia Donaldson and Lauren Child) but no Judith Kerr. Will have to rectify that whilst I can, Girl Lacer is now truly onto chapter books (thank you Roald Dahl, I could kiss you for being the one who finally got Girl Lacer completely over her reading chapter books to herself reluctance – and thank you to her year 2 teacher who pretty much fed her class a diet of Roald Dahl last year as well) and Boy Lacer is *whisper* proving himself to being probably a better reader than Girl Lacer is (something, I am pretty sure is down to being an actual benefit of his autism, he seems to have an almost photographic memory which whilst being such a problem with his anxieties (he will remember something that scared him months and months after a ‘normal’ child would have forgotten) it does mean that he’s remembered the phonic rules well and he’s good at applying them (not so good if it’s one of those words that breaks the phonic rules, he really used to not like that, but he’s better with those now), his almost photographic memory all means that once he knows a word, he remembers it and that’s it, he’s been gobsmacking me this summer by going round reading quite complex signs when we’re out and about and I think he’s been reading some of his picture books after lights out (reading after lights out is something we never crack down on, we found with Girl Lacer that her reading improved once she wasn’t been constantly watched and helped with it and she was reading just because she wanted to read and that just happened to be when she shouldn’t be i.e. going to sleep – right now as I type I can hear the kids in their bedroom, they’re meant to be going to sleep but I can hear Girl Lacer reading Boy Lacer Julia Donaldson). And Boy Lacer being about a term ahead on reading levels than Girl Lacer at his age, so I can’t see him being on picture books for too much longer either.
Anyway, onto the retrospective, it was rather lovely, with a nice bit about Kerr’s early life and then onto her books (and a sweet photo of the real Mog). There was a chunk of text from Goodbye Mog, one of the Kerr books I’ve never read, on one of the walls (the Mog series is unusual for a kids’ series as the main character dies in the end) and it’s the bit about when Mog dies, about how Mog was tired from her paws to the tip of her tail and she felt like she could sleep forever, so she did, which I thought was just so beautifully direct and so beautifully sad but incredibly sweet.
There were Mog cloaks to dress up in to go and lie in the giant cat basket there and in another room Tiger was in the kitchen.
Overall it was lovely seeing the old toys and it was particularly lovely seeing the Judith Kerr stuff but (and although the kids did enjoy parts of the exhibition) I think I might of actually got more out of the visit without them there (mean mummy), I certainly would have had more time to read the displays. I’ve certainly seen the kids get more out of a visit to the main V&A or Tate Modern or The National Gallery, I was about to say I don’t no why the Museum of Childhood wasn’t up there then in that list but it may be down I think to two things;
1) Frustration at all those toys (and for obvious reasons) not being able to play with 99% of them.
2)Them just being children of their times because to them the only interesting toys are their toys, everything else may just be old hat.
After the museum we all caught a bus down to Aldgate and then walked to the Tower where we found a lovely small playground. We then walked down by the river for a bit before heading back into the city to find a bus back to Waterloo. Boy Lacer has walked so far today, he was flagging quite a bit but was really trying hard to do his best to keep up with his Grandad. I had not imagined that we would have been walking quite that far and if I’d known I would have perhaps of brought the pushchair with me after all. I will have to watch to make sure Boy Lacer doesn’t get too many aches and pains tomorrow, as he can be prone to those sometimes in his legs and feet poor thing.