Ben and Mr. Potato Head; Parliament and Our Legacy
Yesterday, Maggie and I took our four-year old grandson, Ben, to the Children’s Museum at the Museum of Civilization. Mr. Potato Head is in town and staying at the museum so we were off to see what mischief we could get into with him.
The Children’s Museum is a great spot for kids. It is full of things to turn, poke, climb aboard, twist, turn, colour, play and explore. It features kid-style exhibits that represent different countries of the world.
There’s a real bus from Pakistan that the kids can climb aboard and pretend to drive. There’s a small store, a bakery, a kid-size house under renovation complete with tools and tool belt kids can wear and there is a boat.
It’s not much of a boat as boats go; it’s more like a representation of a boat.
It’s about thirty to forty feet long and sort of looks like a Great Lakes freighter if you’re dad had built it for you in your back yard. There’s an open hold in the middle of the deck where there are bags of cargo and there’s a wheel house bridge at the back complete with ship’s wheel, a gear knob and a captain’s hat to be worn. The knob doesn’t do much but the wheel spins. Overall, I thought it was the least impressive of all of the displays – Ben didn’t agree.
He loved it.
The ship was the first place we had to go. Forget Mr. Potato Head, it was the boat we had to rush to see – and we did. Ben ran up the gangplank spun the ship’s wheel, tried to lift some of the ‘cargo’ and then he saw it. It was the perfect thing and he spent the next twenty minutes with it.
It was a mop.
Donning an orange and yellow safety vest he found on the deck, Ben grabbed the mop and proceeded to mop the entire deck, the windows, the lanterns and the cargo bags. He would have mopped some of the other kids if they had stood still.
A mop! That was the big hit of the day. We could have gone to the house wares section of Wal-Mart and he would have had as much fun.
We did eventually get to Mr. Potato Head where Ben climbed in the Spud Sub and sat in the captain’s chair on the Space Spud.
He was fascinated by a glass window on the wall that looked into a small enclosure full of different small objects including golf balls. It was meant to simulate a radioactive chamber and had two holes in the wall under the window. Kids could put their hands through the holes into attached rubber gloves and then manipulate the objects in the chamber.
That wasn’t enough to satisfy Ben. He decided the real challenge was to extract an object from the chamber and somehow – and we have no idea how – managed to get one of the golf balls out of the enclosed chamber and into his pocket.
It was a fun time. There were kids everywhere. It was loud chaos but fun chaos; a place where kids could be kids free to satisfy their curiosity and stretch their imaginations. It was also quite warm and so I stepped outside into the dreary, rainy afternoon to see if I could drop my body temperature back down to 98.6.
No worries there – it was damp and chilly.
The Museum of Civilization is on the Quebec side of the Ottawa River and standing outside I could see Canada’s Parliament buildings atop the cliff directly across the river. For a moment I was reminded of the history of that place and the symbolism it represents. It made me feel a sense of renewed pride for a moment but only for a moment.
It is the seat of our government and the heart of our democracy and as I thought about what is happening there now, I felt a sense of melancholy flow over me. So much history has passed through those buildings, so many great leaders but not for a very long time. It saddened me when I thought about how those buildings have been denigrated by politicians and their parties, their strategists, back room boys, opportunists and spin doctors.
When I went back into the Museum and saw all the kids running around and laughing, I felt a sense that we had failed them.
They will soon enough lose their innocence; grow up and become the adults who will pay for our excesses. They are the generation we have saddled with the debt caused by our over-spending and they are the generation who will pay for the erosion of our democracy and rights by a succession of politicians who put political expediency and winning ahead of service, duty and integrity; politicians we elected and supported because they promised us pretty things and appealed to our baser, meanest nature.
Someone told me a while back that the generation just entering the workforce will be the first generation in history to have shorter life spans than their parents. I don’t know if that’s true but I do believe that our generation is the first generation to care less about their children’s future than they do about their own entitlements; bought with borrowed money our children will have to repay.
We will leave to those children an unsustainable and broken health care system, an unbelievable level of government debt, failed environmental policies and a political process that has demeaned and undermined good governance.
It’s a legacy built on greed, a selfish sense of entitlement and blind support for those who are eroding our values, our political institutions and our democracy.
It is a legacy that is almost criminal.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
all rights reserved. The written content of this article is the sole property of Maggie’s Bear but a link to it may be shared by those who think it may be of interest to others
Let’s connect on Twitter: @maggsbear or send a friend request on Facebook to: Maggie’s Bear