The Saddest Little Girl in the World

A few days ago, at a bookstore, I saw a girl trailing after two women and couldn’t help overhearing their conversation:

Little Girl (in cute little girl voice): After this, can we go to the Walker Art Center?
Woman #1: I don’t think so, honey.
Little Girl (in pitiful little girl voice): It’s free on Saturdays.
Woman #1: Have you ever been there?
Little Girl: Yes, lots of times.
Woman #1: What would you do there?
Little Girl: They have art for kids.
Woman #1: It’s just an art museum.

I’m a poor judge of kids’ ages, but this girl was little itty-bitty. I’d guess like five. Or seven. Or nine. Somewhere between five and nine, but she would have been a really short nine-year old.

And I know I don’t actually have kids. And God knows when I do, they’ll ask me to go to the art museum, and it’ll be Saturday morning, and I’ll be on the couch in my underwear, and I’ll growl, and make them mow the yard instead. But first get me a beer, I’ll say.

But when your kid wants to go to the art museum instead of McDonalds, which is where I begged my parents to take me when I was five (and seven, and nine), you know, take her! Or at least don’t tell her art is lame.

12 Responses to The Saddest Little Girl in the World

  1. Nate Solas says:

    Couldn’t agree more. 🙂

  2. Matt says:

    Huh. I wonder who Woman #2 was.

    You know they probably pacified the kid with that old standby: “Wouldn’t you rather go to McDonald’s?”

    I don’t even care that much about art, but it’s still pretty sad.

  3. Jayashree says:

    no wonder they gave the kid to k-fed.

  4. Duedecad says:

    Easy Explanation #1: Woman #1 is a bad mommy.

    Tragic Explanation #1: Woman #2 was the evil Walker witch, which every mommy knows conspires most viciously on Saturday mornings. Thus tortured soul mommy had to die a little inside while denying her highly curious 5-9 year old mind-expanding opportunities in order to save her from the wicked hijinks of woman #2.

    Comedic Explanation #1: Woman #2 is mommy’s partner, and was at home preparing a surprise birthday party with an art theme for aspiring artist child #1. Mommy distracted aspiring artist child at the book store while woman #2 prepared. Aspiring artist child forgets all about the Walker when mommy and woman #2 give child an original Rothko. And a pony.

  5. Kris says:

    Hell, I can draw an original Rothko; look, the canvas is black! The whole thing! But a pony is AWESOME.

  6. dbay says:

    Hey man, I so wish you wouldn’t dis Mr. Rothko. Besides, I don’t think the majority of his work is monochromatic.

    Truth is, I was that 5-9 year old. Are you related to my mommy?

  7. Kris says:

    No, no, you’re right. Sometimes half of Rothko’s canvas is dark blue, and the other half is LIGHT blue. 🙂

    I just saw that Rothko on Ghost of Paper blog:

    . . . and he also talks about a documentary coming out (or just came out) called “My Kid Could Paint That,” about Marla Olmstead, a 4-year old painter who sold $300,000 worth of paintings and has been compared to Kandinsky and Picasso.

    So, my personal tastes aside, what makes Rothko art? And is Marla’s art real art? I’m excited to see it (the movie and the art).

  8. Aakaash says:

    Woman #1 depressed me, but like many others, I see the dialogue continuing after moving out of Kris’ earshot. In that, Woman #2 says “Why are you telling my kid what we can and cannot do? We just asked you to show us where the cookbooks are!”. And then they went to the museum, stopping for ice-cream. Later that evening they watched The Iron Giant on DVD.

    Re: “My Kid Could Paint That”, there was some controversy about this kid a while back – people claimed it wasn’t her painting or somesuch. I just read the EW review (they mak mention of the controversy) and they have good things to say about the discussion on art in this movie. I’ll be watching it, whenever I get a chance, just because I need to know what art is…

  9. Eric says:

    Very funny conversation. The kid is truly a heart-breaker. “art for kids” is a sure-fire killer to get what you want. How can a parent deny that request? But, it happens. De-nied. The weird thing was that they were in a bookstore. So can we say that it was a bad parent?
    Good ear, Kris

  10. krystal says:

    Let’s see. Being a parent of a four-year old, I feel I qualify for a little intervention. Though yes, Woman #1 should have in no way discouraged the little girl from her evidently passionate feelings about the Art Museum, as a Woman #1, sometimes there’s not enough time in the world to satisfy the endless passions of hungry little brains. Not that we’re lazy, (well, not always), but when little Ms. K wants to go to the Natural Science Museum, the playground, the bookstore AND the Pretty Store (aka Dollar Store), well, Saturday morning just became harder than a nine to five.

    What Woman #1 should’ve done was an artful execution (no pun intended) of the defer and distract – “honey, we don’t have time to visit the museum today. We still have that symphony performance to make by noon and the planetarium mantinee to get to by 4. We’ll have to go next Saturday.”

  11. Aakaash says:

    OK, this is really interesting – thanks to Kris’ accurate reportage of the dialogue, I have a couple of doubts:
    Woman #1 says “Have you ever been there before?” which makes me wonder if she is the mom. I mean, she could very well be, but given the kid’s age, wouldn’t a mom know? The reply of “lots of times” seems to cement this. So maybe woman # 1 is a babysitter or an aunt or something.

    Also, I don’t think the problem is the refusal – the question “What would you do there?” and the damning declaration “It’s just an art museum” are the real thorns in my side . Just a shade of “Matilda” where the dad says something along the lines of “What do you need books for, when we have a telly?”

  12. Pulao says:

    My theory is that Woman #1 is aunt to Little Girl (yes, I know Aakaash said it first, but I’m writing this comment exactly a month after he posted his comment, and I doubt he’s going to notice), and Little Girl lives out in the suburbs.

    When her parents come into town, they do city things like museums etc. Woman #1, on the other hand, is a jaded city-dweller who understands that living in the city is really more about running to catch the freaking bus and bad, bad traffic because suddenly, on Saturdays, people decide to invade the lakes, getting in the way of Woman #1 who lives around them seven days a week and is just trying to get to the grocery store so that she can just pick up a rotisserie chicken and pretend that she cooked it. Plus, everyone who visits her wants to go to that damn exhibit, and sure it’s got Picasso and Pollack, but she’s been there three times this summer and come on, already, somebody just go with her to the nice cafe that opened up a block away from her house, so she can read a book in peace.

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