While Caleb was off school for the holidays, we took the kids to visit the Art Gallery of Ontario, the AGO, which was a lovely, quiet sort of adventure, which is probably the only sort I can handle.

Possibly the most exciting part of this was that the kids had received umbrellas for Christmas, and the unseasonably warm weather had brought rain and an opportunity to be sheltered from it, along with poking and jabbing other things along the way.

Usually we benefit from having an off-schedule to everyone else with the shop closed on Mondays, but with Caleb in school, we’re also at the mercy of when he’s off school, along with the throngs of other school-aged children, and it was busy and crowded there.

I realize that the following pictures make it seem like it was really empty there, but that’s mostly a combination of avoiding where the crowds were and waiting for appropriate moments. We had received free passes over Christmas, but I think we probably waited around an hour and a half to get through the ticket line to redeem our passes. In most of the kids areas, it was bustling, which is wonderful, if exhausting.

Jon waited in line while I took the kids to have a snack and read a book. Thank goodness I’m too “frugal” to count on the expensive concessions at museum cafes or cafeterias: by the time we’d gotten through the line and sorted out we would’ve all already been suffering low blood sugar.

Caleb’s been a few times before, including on one of his first adventures without me or Jon when he was maybe 3, with one of our old staff Derrick, but we haven’t been since we’ve had Naomi, so it was her first time. She is definitely our wild child, but it was fun to see her exploring and looking at all of the huge sculptures or paintings, and take in the architecture of the building.

We saw the early Rubens exhibit, which was beautiful.
Lots of very thought-provoking modern art.

Afterwards we wandered Chinatown for a bit before stopped for noodles and rice.


I’ve long been meaning to make more of an effort to visits some of these cultural places we have in Toronto—the Aga Khan, the ROM, the Science Centre, Ripley’s. When we travel out of the city, it’s sometimes a bit hard to convince the kids or myself, while they’re so young, that visiting a museum is a worthwhile use of our limited days and energy. But in Toronto, while where we can have a half-day trip and then all recover at our home base, we want to make the most of these early years and expose them to some of these experiences while they’re still captive.

I’ve always struggled with this concept of quality time with the kids. Because we’ve always lived connected to the shop, it’s always a very blurry line. “We can read your book together downstairs in the shop, Caleb” and then a customer comes in. Sweeping the shop, doing homework at the counter, learning to count the till. We’re spending time together, and maybe we will have an interesting conversation while we’re restocking the paper bags, or maybe Caleb will finish reading his book laying under the table in the back, leaving a trail of goldfish crackers.

So we try and squeeze in when we can, special adventures to the AGO or to regular ones Costco or to the park.

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January 16, 2020 — wonderpens



Nina said:

You’re doing all the right things …and creating future AGO patrons!

Do try and get to the Aga Khan…it’s an unforgettable experience. They show free films under the stars outdoors (believe they start early….)


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wonderpens said:

Thanks for your recommendation! The Aga Khan is on our list, we may have to bump it up.


Susan said:

Have you considered sharing any of these with the AGO? Especially the first (gasp!) in the Group of Seven gallery. Such wonderment.

The rare momentary privacy in a museum is such a treat; even at their ages, some memory of it will get stored away. I still love when it happens.

Regardless, good on you for venturing there during the holidays. Lucky kids.


wonderpens said:

Yes, what a treat! We don’t get out to some of these treasures in our city as often as we should, and it’s always so special when we do. I do hope that some tiny part of seeing the artwork and the experience of visiting gets absorbed into their memory of childhood. We are so thankful to live in Toronto!

Thanks so much for reading and taking the time to write!

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