Like literally everything else in New York City, the Museum of Natural History was a lot more crowded and expensive than I remembered growing up. Even the friends we met there from Brooklyn conceded that the line snaking three blocks long in the rain was next-level ridiculous, and we all made a solemn vow to never again attempt this excursion during Christmas break.
Furthermore, my experience of this museum from a parental perspective was notably different from that of my childhood, when I ran amongst gems and meteorites and under giant whales and canoes without having to worry about losing my upstream-swimming spawn in the most epic of NYC Christmas week clusterfucks.
Not so as a parent. Let me be clear about something: almost every adult in the building with a child in tow--and there were thousands--looked like the prehistoric people in the picture below: haggard, confused, and fighting a Darwinian battle for survival in a crucible of human reproduction and population movement. Most of them were slightly taller, better dressed, and less hairy; but otherwise the two species were indistinguishable.
It was as if 10,000 parents of young children were all trying to orient themselves with a map at the same exact time, and every kid was alternately hanging off their parents' pant legs, getting lost, and whining the same shit:
"Can you pick me up?"
"I need to poop."
"Can I go on your shoulders?"
"Can we get something at the gift shop?"
At one point, (sometime between a crustless PB&J/water fountain bench break) we were carried forward on a sea of humanity that we could only pray was leading toward the holy grail of this museum: the dinosaurs and promises of T-Rex and Megaladon's fossilized jaw.
For a moment, the universe decided to cut us a break: an enormous service elevator, staffed by an elderly woman in a swivel chair, appeared out of nowhere and opened before us. I caught the old woman's eye and croaked desperately, "Dinos?" She nodded and our little group shuffled in.
As we made our way through the Cretacious period, I again observed that very few people were engaging with the exhibits. Every adult was looking for a stray child, and every child was screaming. It was some fresh hell, is what it was.
By the time we left, I was positive I had gone backwards in time to an era when all humans had to scrap with one another in caves and on plains just to stay hydrated and maintain the correct body temperature.
The AMNH at Christmas: a 4-D experience in evolutionary biology.