I took my boys to Marbles Kid’s Museum on Sunday. It’s been wet around here for a few days, so they haven’t had much really active outdoor play lately. I had heard that Marbles is great for kid activity — Cowgrit has taken our boys before — but I had never been.
It’s an impressive place. There’s a lot of square footage full of kids play areas. At the back of the building is a big ol’ wooden ship, (well, the front half of a ship). After an hour playing around elsewhere in the museum, the boys wanted to go play in the “pirate ship.”
I sat down on a bench and partially nodded off on short naps while the boys ran and played through the ship with the other dozen or two kids. During my intermittent wakeful moments, I saw kids sweeping the decks, brushing the railings, and running in and out of the ship with odds and ends from a nearby “science submarine” play area.
At one point, I heard a little girl mention she was bringing something to the ship captain. After I gave up actually getting any kind of real nap sleep, I got up from my bench and went to explore this ship. I entered the lower deck to look around. The ceiling is only about 5 feet high, so I, (and the couple of other adults there), had to bend over pretty far to move around.
I heard another couple of kids say they were cleaning the ship for the captain. The thought ran through my mind, “It would be just like Calfgrit9 to assume the role of ‘captain’ with all these kids around.” He wasn’t the only 8-10 year old among all the 4-7 year olds, but he likes being in control.
I made my way up the stairs to the main deck. There’s a captain’s quarters at the back of the main deck, (with a third deck above that), and that’s exactly where I found Calfgrit9 sitting in state. He sat in a chair with his right arm propped up on a table beside him and his legs stretched out and crossed at the ankles before him. He had the air of a monarch on his throne as younger kids came in and asked what he wanted them to do.
He directed one kid to run up the flag at the front of the ship. He told another to take something to the play area next to the ship. The kids immediately did as ordered. They all seemed to enjoy having duties, and Calfgrit9 surely enjoyed being in command of his domain.
I left my oldest boy to his command, and I roamed the main deck and above. Eventually, Calgrit5 came to me and complained that his brother wouldn’t let him be captain. “Daddy, come with me and let me be captain,” he said.
So I declared him my captain and asked for his orders. We went and checked the treasure map painted next to the ship’s wheel. He determined where we should navigate, and I stood at the wheel to steer us. He ran to the flag pole and ran up the ship’s colors. After that, we went to and fro about the ship’s decks doing the odds and ends that he thinks sailors do.
After a while, Calfgrit5 wanted to explore other areas of Marbles. I talked with Calfgrit9 about our intentions, and he wanted to stay on the ship for longer. We talked it out, and he would stay there at the ship, (continuing his captain role), while the little one and I went to the other areas of the museum.
Calfgrit5 and I worked with real tools in the woodworking shop area, and we played with the giant Lego blocks building and knocking down towers. When closing time approached, we went back and retrieved Calfgrit9 — he had played captain for two solid hours.
Fun was had by all. Calgrit5 got to experiment with many different activities, and Calfgrit9 got to be in command of a crew of pirates. I don’t know if Calfgrit9’s personality is a sign of being a future leader or a sign of megalomania.