Monday, December 17, 2018

Tea, Pottery and Black Bears - One Very Adventurous Day in Boston

Shira and I have made our share of quick trips to Boston to visit our nieces and nephew, but this last trip, clocking in at less than 35 hours, is probably our briefest. We essentially had one full day to play with the kids, and play we did. The weather, a cold and rainy 47°F, didn't do us any favors. But we remained undeterred!

Our first activity was the visit to the Boston Tea Party Museum. Because yesterday was the anniversary of the event, all tours were free. The kids were confused by the mock-town meeting that starts the tour, but certainly enjoyed going on the model ship. They each got to toss (and retrieve) a bundle of tea and take turns 'driving the ship' by manning the captain's wheel. We didn't spend much time on the boat, but given how nasty the weather was, nobody complained.

We then proceeded into a small series of rooms indoors, where we watched a number of cleverly structured videos.

I was struck by a number of things. First, the museum did its best to impart the gravity of the Tea party on us: at a minimum, the colonists were committing theft, at a maximum, treason. Second, the ship the colonists raided is tiny. OK, maybe not tiny, but when you consider that we were standing a on replica of a boat intended to sail across the ocean, it's remarkable how small it is. How little protection would it provide in open ocean during a storm? I can't imagine. And finally, it's truly baffling that our founding fathers could see their plight as a form of slavery, yet turn around and write slavery into the constitution? Oh to be so blind.

The kids, of course, took away a different experience. They no doubt enjoyed throwing tea overboard and were blown away by the "talking portraits."

The museum isn't especially large, which worked to our advantage. We had other activities planned for the day, so getting a compact dose of history was perfect.

After lunch we made our way to our next activity: Ceramics A La Carte. Each kid got to pick out a ceramic statue and paint it as he or she wanted to. Chana selected a kitty, Tzipora a guinea pig, Gavriella a princess and Dovid a fighter jet. After a few minutes of instructions and warnings, the kids got to work. I realized that if I didn't paint something myself, I'd spend all my time micromanaging the children. I grabbed a salt-and-pepper shaker and went to work.

This was fun! In many respects, it was like the glass project we did at the Corning Museum of Glass. However, there was one key difference: there was no rushing. We all got to take our time. The kids really did fantastic and didn't need my coaching. Of course, on the way home, I thought of half-a-dozen ways I'd tackle the project differently, but that's par for the course. What a great activity everyone could do on their own terms, and one where the weather couldn't throw us off.

After the pottery and some snacks, we made our way to our final activity of the day: ZooLights at the Stone Zoo. Without the benefit of daylight, and with a healthy dose of festive lights, we managed to give the kids a unique take on a trip to the zoo. Maybe I was taking the name too literally, but I wasn't especially blown away by the lighting. But the kids love seeing animals, and every time we'd come across an active enclosure, we'd all ooh and ahh with delight. While the little fuzzy monkeys may have been the cutest animals we saw, the most memorable were probably the black bears. The bear enclosure is setup so you can approach thick glass. We did just this and noticed a couple of bears lounging in the back of the area. Then, without a sound, one bear walked right in front of the glass and managed the surprise Dovid. It was priceless.

After about 45 minutes, the rain started coming down again and we called it a night. If it had been better weather, we'd probably have explored more. Though, the kids definitely got a kick out of seeing what they did.

After a pizza dinner, a round of kid-friendly charades, and a bedtime story, our day was complete. We went back to our hotel room where I collapsed in a heap. We may have had a single day, but man, did we make it count!

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