A Playdate with an Original Jim Henson Muppet

When I was a little girl, I put on puppet shows for hours on end. My mom would help me make puppets out of my dad’s old socks. We’d glue on yarn for hair and buttons for eyes. Sometimes, we’d even take old material and make clothes for the little critters. My dad would stretch a sheet across the doorway to make my stage and then I’d “entertain” my folks with my—no doubt—scintillating plays. Wow, they were good parents.

So when I read that the Katonah Museum of Art had a display about puppets running through June 13th—well, I leaped at the chance to take Maisie.

I made a playdate with my friend Denise and her twin girls, Ellery and Caroline, who are two months older than Maisie. Of course, just as we arrived, a school group showed up so to avoid the older kids, we went to the activity area first. It’s a great spot where kids can make puppets or color or – well – do just about any kind of craft you can imagine. There was a five-year-old boy having the time of his life, making his own little character.

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Our three? They were a little too young to really enjoy it. Even so, the twins sat there scribbling away, minding their own business while my one kid turned the whole place upside down. She’d sit on a stool for a whole 20 seconds and then start bolting around the room and the rest of the museum laughing her head off. One man said to me as Maisie streamed by, “That girl is a born leader.” I’m sure what he was really saying was, “Good God woman! How hard is it to control one little toddler?”

After several failed attempts of dragging Maisie back to the art area, we went to another spot where they had some amazing puppet show films as well as the very puppets who were the stars of the movies. The films were exquisite—like nothing I’ve ever seen and my favorite part of the whole exhibit, but the girls—well—they loved the other display in the room: a puppet theater and puppets with which to play. No wonder my folks went to all that trouble. Watching the three of them try on puppets and show them to each other was an absolute hoot.

We finally braved the other two rooms, school kids and all. There were displays of all sorts of different kinds of puppets—including an original Jim Henson muppet—some giant in size and each was a true work of art. There wasn’t a lot to see, but what was quite interesting. I caught a bit of what the guides were telling the school kids and it all sounded pretty fascinating and the elementary students seemed enthralled. Either that or their mothers had done a better job of teaching them how to behave in museums than I’ve done with Maisie.

As I sat there thinking that very thought, Maisie suddenly yanked her hand from mine and took off, pushing her way through the crowd of older kids. When she finally got in front of them all, she did something she learned just this week: a somersault.

I need a nanny.

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The moral of this story is: the exhibit is great – if you’re an adult or a school-age kid. If you’re the world’s most energetic toddler? Stick to gym class.

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