A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That… A Little Bit Of Culture

We’ve all been healthy for a whole week, and without major nighttime disruptions. At least, none involving anyone’s vomit, nor requiring full bed changes at 3 a.m.

There are so many potential topics of interest… I could write about one of the several extremely complex and vexing inpatient cases I’ve had, appropriately camouflaged to protect people’s identities… But it’s so hard to keep details secret and still deliver the punch.

I could write about our ongoing complex and vexing child behavioral issues… But I’m just too tired.

So I’ll keep it very brief with a little anecdote about culture.

Babyboy and I took our two fat, happy felines to the vet. See, we’re considering adding a family dog to the household, and the rescue organization we plan to apply through requires a veterinary reference. Meaning, we need a veterinarian to vouch that we’re good animal parents.

Now, we hadn’t brought our beasts in for a physical in about four years. They don’t go outside, except when Leo dashes out the door and makes a break for the birdfeeders, only to be caught about thirty seconds later. They have no health issues, apart from being overweight. So, we haven’t bothered to take them in.


So, I made an appointment. It was my day off. I planned to get them in the cages in the car, pick up Babyboy at school, and take everyone to the vet, like for an outing.

Leo was cake to get in his cat cage. I opened the little door and he walked right in. Raffy had to be stuffed in backwards.

Babyboy was very excited at the prospect of a visit to the animal doctor. He’s fairly obsessed with doctors, not because of me, but because he worships his pediatrician, Dr. Ben. He actually pretends to be Dr. Ben, by wearing a stethoscope around his neck in classic fashion, plus my pager or anything resembling a pager tucked into his pants waistband, and carrying a notepad that he scribbles little o’s and lines and says he’s “writing a ‘scription”.

So we all walked into the vet office, a tad early. The very young vet technician bubbled over Babyboy. “What are your cat’s names?” she asked.

Babyboy readily answered, pointing at each one. “DIS one is RAFFY,  and  DIS one is LEO.”

“Oh!” She exclaimed. “Is Raffy named after Raffy, the children’s singer?”

Now, I’ve kind of heard of that guy, but Babyboy hadn’t, and he just seemed kind of confused.

“No,” I stepped in, “They’re named actually for Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael…We got them before the kids were born,” extra info offered by way of explanation for the artsy names.

“Oh!” She exclaimed again. “Of course! Of course they would be named after the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. That’s so cute.”

I bit my lip here. There was not a trace of irony on her part. I do not think the girl knew that the Turtles were actually named for Italian Renaissance painters.

But when I related the story to Hubby later, and we talked about it, it was not in a making-fun way. It was more in a how-do-we-prevent-that kind of way. How do we raise children who hear the name Leonardo Da Vinci and know he was not just a cartoon turtle? Who know some basics about art and music and history…

We talked about playing more classical music at home. And (again) about turning off the T.V. Reading more books. Taking them to museums. Et cetera.

But it’s just SO HARD right now. Going to the supermarket is a risky adventure. What if Babyboy spits on someone, again? What if Babygirl throws one of her new and spectacular tantrums, again? What if she vomits during it, again? What if either/ both has a blowout poopie, again? What if they pummel each other and scream and yell and cry and, oh, hell, I’ll just stay home and order from Peapod.

Forget the museum. Not right now.

But how do we raise cultured children?

3 thoughts on “A Little Bit Of This, A Little Bit Of That… A Little Bit Of Culture”

  • Don’t worry, you’ve got plenty of time :). My kids are 9 and 6, and we’re starting to really get in gear with the cultural exposure. Some good moments for us: the school teaches about famous painters and composers, and we get newsletters with that info. So if we go to a museum, I head for a painter I know is familiar to them. Even better if I can find a painting they studied. They feel proud teaching me about it, and it’s great reinforcement. Same with music on the radio, or in a kids’ symphony concert. Another moment: my older child is now taking trumpet lessons, and he’s learning lots of good music. We talk about it, and I get CDs of composers he likes. I got out my cello and we play the simple duets in his book together (with me transposing from treble to bass clef and down a step, which means that he gets to feel superior while I work out the notes). My younger one hangs around while we practice, and I hear him humming the tunes later. A third good recent moment: we listen to my favorite musicals in the car (Anything Goes and City of Angels are recent hits; A Little Night Music was a no-go, sadly). The high school put on Anything Goes this year, and we went to see it. My 9-year old was totally into the silliness of it, and already knows all the lyrics. But even my little guy turned to me halfway through the overture and said, “hey, they’re playing little bits of all the songs!” He recognized it from the CD. So neat! But it’s only in the last year that we started listening to “adult” music. We worked up to it with kid bands like Steve Songs, Ralph’s World and They Might Be Giants kids’ stuff. Some of those recordings are a lot of fun even for the adults in the car, and they get the kids in the habit of listening. Our experience is that if you do a little at a time, at their pace and geared to their interests, you can build up. When they were littler, I also went to informal, short music and dance concerts, preferably in outdoor venues. There were more of those in CA, but they happen in the summer on the East coast too. There’s a sculpture garden near us that has yearly site-specific dance concerts, and we’ve been to a couple of those. I think the key is that you have to be genuinely interested and enthusiastic yourself. Dance and music are super-important to me and my husband, and are a regular part of our lives every opportunity we get, so as the kids get older and we get to express and share our interests more often, the arts exposure naturally happens.

    • Thanks Lara, as usual, a full and reassuring response. Thanks for taking the time to remind me that we have time. Though I shouldn’t be walking around with the theme to “Doc McStuffins” in my head either…. 🙂

      • See, I’m having a blast now, just breaking into the age where my passions can be something I really share with my kids, so I’m feeling especially enthusiastic :). I remember thinking we’d never get here. When my older child was 2, I bought a guitar and learned 3 chords, thinking it was more likely he’d let me sing and play guitar than piano or cello. But no. For a long time I felt like I sacrificed music and dance to have kids. I finally can do it with them, instead of trying to find time to do it in spite of them, and it feels amazing.

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