Posted on March 26, 2005 at 5:24 pm

Sock_oneWell, I’m back.
And no, I didn’t get to a yarn store.  I knew you would want to know about that, and there’s no reason to keep you in suspense.  I don’t think there’s much other than that to tell you, because it was a pretty uninteresting trip from a knitter’s point-of-view.  The Divine Miss C failed to register any emotional response to much of what I was excited to share with her about my favorite things in Chicago.  We’ve been before, but most of what she’d enjoyed the last time there was either identifying things half-submerged in the river from the window of our hotel, or had a Paul Frank monkey emblazoned across its butt.  This time, I thought (silly me) at twelve years old, that she was entering a phase in her life when art and music and architecture would begin to be at least mildly interesting to her.  She has declared an interest in becoming an architect, after all, and man, if you can’t find something in the way of civic art or high-rising architecture in Chicago to make you say WOW, you’re — well, you must be — at least in my experience — a twelve year old girl.  The Bean in Millennium Park was under winter wraps for a final polishing, the Associates Building was, uh, "dirty", and the Chagall Windows at the Art Institute were somehow too small.  I believe the words that she uttered when we came through the dimly lit gallery of medieval armour and grim objects of destruction into the sun-filled arcade with the cobalt and marine blue dreamy windows were something like "Is that all?" 

Perhaps I talked them up too much.   

I blame myself, really.  I am a bit ebullient when it comes to Chagall Windows and giant jelly beans, and ebullience in the eyes of a twelve year old is just not cool.  Unless, of course, you’re talking about the biggest Abercrombie store in the United States, which I would register as the highlight of Miss C’s adventures in Chicago.  To be fair, I should say that she was impressed with the Design Within Reach store on Ohio, which was pretty cool.

The youngest came down with a fever on the third day (the one with the afternoon reserved for my personal shopping) so we decided to head back a day and a half early, and canned the rest of the stay.  I think I can trace the moment of infection to our afternoon at the Museum of Science, when the Wonder Boy chased the HO-scale Big Boy around the Chicago to Seattle layout in the Great Train Story gallery, pausing now and then to relish the sight of the coupling rods pounding away on the driving wheels as the train rocketed past, squinting to play with the perspective, all while resting his mouth on the aluminum handrail and giving this an occasional lick.

Yep, you read that right.  I let my kid lick the hand rails at the Museum of Science and Industry.  Horrible, isn’t it?  During a week when children in Florida are dying of kidney infections they contracted at a petting zoo, I let my kid lick the handrails at the Museum of Science.

I try.  Heaven knows I try to keep him from doing such things, but he thinks it’s funny when I say don’t do that.  At three he’s already got a problem with authority.  If it were possible to explain to him as he coughs his way through Blue’s Clues that he can’t hear what Joe is saying because he licked the handrails at the Museum of Science on Sunday, we’d have a hell of a life lesson, wouldn’t we?  I am reminded of my Aunt Betsy’s well-meaning attempt to cure me of sucking my thumb by painting it with tabasco sauce.  But I never liked her much, so I’m not going to even entertain painting every tempting surface in the next public place we go to teach that kid something about oral gratification.  Maybe I’ll just have to keep him strapped in the stroller until he’s ready for college.

So I knit through a sock while following my children around the windy city.  We had several pleasant meals, but I still prefer the ho-hum of my own kitchen.  At least there I know I can make a chicken alfredo that makes Miss C happy, and there I know that the Wonder Boy won’t contract strep from licking the countertops. 

It’s comforting to be home.