If you go to an art museum with your four children, you will see the art fast, a colorful blur of masterpieces.
First, the quick pace will be set by your five-year-old, who will drag you from painting to painting (skipping several pieces or walls at a time).
As you try to avoid whiplash during this process, you notice the 14-year-old old has a smile turned upside down and is grinding her teeth because she feels crowded by her siblings and grumpy because she has to rush through the art (even though she doesn’t appear much more interested in the art than the five-year-old).
Eventually you notice the five-year-old has stopped dragging you and now has her arms lifted toward you to be carried. When you bend down to pick her up you notice the woman with the headphones, who is standing still, listening to the audio tour, and you think how different the art would look at her pace, which seems almost like slow-motion compared to your own speed.
Your attention turns to your nine-year-old son and you know that at least twenty-six minutes have elapsed since he last ate and you calculate how much time is left before “I’m hungry” escapes his lips.
You are now the one that picks up the pace, urging everyone through the exhibit and finally to the stairs that lead to the room the kids have been waiting for, the art-making room. Coats are tossed your way as they disperse to different stations. You think wistfully of putting your own hands on the fanned paintbrush or making a white line on the black paper in front of the wooden figure. Or maybe making a short animated movie with the giant guinea pigs at station number six. But you hold the coats and the bags of art as they accumulate.
Later, at home, your husband asks the five-year-old how she liked the art museum and she answers, “First there was this really boring part where we looked at a lot of pictures, but then we went to the part where we got to make art!”
You smile, seemingly amused at your daughter’s cute response, but really you’re thinking again of the woman with the headphones, who walked the exhibit, without any fear of whiplash.