Family life

Rainbow Loom and art galleries: Mother knows best

As fun as Rainbow Loom can be, Susan Goldberg had a feeling her son would love the Thunder Bay Art Gallery just as much.

Photo: Susan Goldberg

Photo: Susan Goldberg

Thunder Bay, Ont. writer Susan Goldberg is a transplanted Torontonian and one of two mothers to two boys. Follow along as she shares her family’s experiences.

I took Isaac to the Thunder Bay Art Gallery (cute acronym alert: T-BAG!) on Saturday afternoon. Each year, they do an end-of-year exhibit of work by the students in Lakehead University’s fine arts program, and it’s a great show, full of quirky projects, usually with one or two standouts. There are tons of sculpture and installations, and I knew that my six-year-old would love it.

The problem was, he didn’t know he would love it.

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The day started out well, but by midafternoon, Isaac—with no activities and no play dates scheduled for the day—hadn’t left the house and was developing an acute case of cabin fever. “That’s it,” I finally said after fending off one too many karate chops and random fits of sobbing over the precise amount of Rainbow Loom elastics his meagre savings would purchase: “We are going out.”

I’ll spare you the histrionics and mechanics and negotiations it took to get that kid in the car, but get in the car he eventually did. We did a couple of errands, including returning empty bottles to the beer store: The deal was that Isaac could keep the cash—all two dollars and thirty cents of it—if he helped carry in the bottles. Which he did, grudgingly, although I could see him begin to cheer up a bit as he hefted the bottles onto the conveyor belt and very solemnly took his money from the cashier.

“I said I didn’t want to go to the art gallery!” he said as I pulled the car into the parking lot. I just smiled.

“I’m not going in,” he said as we walked across the parking lot. “I’m just going to stand in the front.” I nodded.

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We went in. And within about 30 seconds, Isaac was completely rapt, moving from piece to piece, trying to make meaning of each, giggling at the nudes, donning a headset to listen to a sound installation. I’m not sure how long we spent in the gallery—maybe 45 minutes, tops, along with an extended exploration of its tiny gift shop—but by the time we left, he was happy and the day had been reclaimed.

(And then we went to the craft store and bought Rainbow Loom elastics with the beer money. Because obviously.)

I claim the outing as a win for Team Parent. I like to think that, at least somewhat often, I know what’s best for my kids, even if they don’t. I’m not always right, and even when I am right, my opinion doesn’t always prevail. But every so often, I do insist that we do something “because I know you’ll like it” and I weather the storm of protests just so that we can emerge, exhausted but happy, on the other side.