Monday, October 30, 2006

Cheaters vs. children

[Parenting post follows]

Frustrating week. Fridays is my day with the boys. I wanted to take them to a large and glorious local botanic gardens. $15 entrance fee for adults (children are free). Decided that I'd like to get a membership. I've found that family memberships for zoos, botanic gardens, science centers, children's museums, are well worth the cost, as they encourage regular visits, and the children enjoy them.

Thing is, we've got an au pair. It's our choice. I prefer having a dedicated caregiver for the boys when we're not watching them, I like the idea of international exchange. But, see, it would seem most of these memberships cover only two adults, and their children. In Paradise, the zoo had a nifty little add-on feature for family memberships to accommodate just this scenario, an extra person who could take the children in the absence of the parents. It was something like an extra $15 or $20 added on to the cost of the membership. GREAT!

But here in Rocket City every place we go they throw up road blocks. I'm sorry, you can only have two adults on the membership. You see... they add in a hushed confidential tone, some people would take advantage of it. They'd try to service two households.

Oh... I think you mean, like, mothers or fathers from separate families couldn't possible claim to be a couple, put their names on the membership cards, and bring their separate children whenever they liked. What a stupid idea!

The people who suffer most by such short-sighted membership policies, and inflexibility, are the children who would otherwise be exposed to a great deal more of what the world has to offer. I bought the $100 basic family membership to the botanic gardens, only to be told that (although they'd make a one-time exception for me) the basic membership doesn't allow "early entry" into the gardens. You have to get the $300 membership if you wish to enter BEFORE NOON! Oh... and the "children's garden" and the buildings with exhibits are all closed until after noon as well. [SIGH].

This means for some memberships, we need to give the au pair one of the membership cards, and have her pretend to be my wife when she goes alone with the boys, and hope they don't require identification. Or, we could simply list me and the au pair as the members, but then, my wife could never take the boys without one of us. Is there really a benefit to forcing families like ours to buy two memberships, if we wish to remain honest?

1 comment:

Lilian said...

I know, that's pretty bad, isn't it? Last year we went much less to Longwood Gardens than we'd like to, because we couldn't take my parents with us. (we have cards with our photos on them).

We were luckier with the Arboretum membership, but all because the card is for two adults (the carrier plus one) and two children. My husband can get in for free, since it belongs to UPenn. So I put my dad's name on the card, since I could truly say that he lived on the same household. That way he and my mom could go during the week with the boys.

The Please Touch museum has the same thing - 2 adults 2 children membership (they even have a "grandparent" one with 2 adults 4 children, I think).

Anyway... I'm sure it's quite tough for you and your particular family's situation.