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Hannah reclines on the sofa, one hand holding the TV remote, the other diving into a packet of crisps. She gives me smug grin.
“Hope you guys have fun!”
I mumble something before backing out of the lounge door and greeting our three children, who are supposed to be putting on their shoes. Ben and Tom are too busy shoving each other to dig their footwear out of the jumble by the door. Kaitlyn, the oldest, sucks in her cheeks and directs a baleful look at me with her brown eyes.
“Can’t I stay behind with Mum?” she pleads.
“No.” I say, firmly. “We’re going to the museum, just me, you and your brothers. And then, if you’re all good,” I raise my voice slightly so the boys can hear me, “We’ll get some ice cream or something, how does that sound?”
“Yeah! Ice cream!” the boys chant together, distracted momentarily from their tussle. Kaitlyn’s demeanor brightens.
“But only if you get your shoes on right now, no fuss!”
Ten minutes later we’re walking up the hill, and I’m feeling more sympathetic towards my wife with every step. She works from home, but the last few summers I’ve managed to get time off to help her out during the school holidays. This year, things were harder, and so I can only take the kids off her hands on the weekends.
On the way through the town centre, I drop off my library book, and then we head towards the museum. Hannah was doubtful that the kids would particularly enjoy a contemporary art exhibit, but I insisted it was never too early to start exposing our children to modern art. I showed her the exhibit online. It was a collection of photographs by Diane Arbus. Hannah made a face, which caused me to be all the more determined.
It’s not until I stand in the museum’s entrance, the sound of my rowdy children the only audible noise, that I begin to wonder if this is a good idea…