Monday, September 5, 2016

Misadventures in Auctioneering, or 4 Reasons to Take Your Children to Antique Auctions

So I, I mean we, went to our first antique auction today. It was a big Labor Day sale at a large auction house near the Vermont border.  Meaning, people came in from all over - even heard two English accents - to bid, including a very high brow collector class and personal buyers.

And then there were my babies plus bump. I was possibly the youngest adult in the room, and my children were the only children I saw there besides those selling the lemonade outside, and certainly the only south of five.

There are good reasons for this - auctions are a day-long, sit-down affair where furniture hundreds of years old (some were from the "Pilgrim Century" -1620-1720) is accessible to the touch.  And a few attendees, like the grumpy old woman and her coffee my stroller blockaded for 30 seconds before I moved it, believe us mothers should "get a babysitter!"

But I enjoyed going-with - my kids immensely.  Yes, they only lasted in their stroller and chair, respectively, sitting peacefully for 30 minutes, there was a whole lot of musical chairs/floor/aisle action going on, and after observing other attendees for a time, Gideon kept trying to bid and even took my placard for one terrifying moment (I saw the death of our family's net worth flash before my eyes!) to make good his attempt.  Then there was the time when I took my lot to the restroom and Esther pulled on my necklace, popping the string and creating a cascade of beads while I, a bit flustered and hastening our escape, assured concerned onlookers that no, don't bother hunting them off the floor, they're plastic (granted, a plastic I really liked!).  Or the time when we came back from the restroom and I, seeing it as an exercise in appropriately talking to and interacting with non-scary strangers, asked Gideon to please collect my beads from other people only to find him a few moments later slithered underneath three chairs in the row behind, reaching through the legs of startled auction-goers to retrieve the beads.  Once all of us realized what was happening, at least a radius three-rows deep were quietly in stitches.  

Through all the hilarium, I discovered a few good reasons to actually take children to these types of events. 

1) Their tastes are cultivated at a young age. Gideon will now often comment on furniture, as he did on the bench above, "Oooh, this is a very nice bench!" with appropriate inflection.  Not quite my style, but it can work for you, bud. 

2) It delights most to see little people in such an unexpected venue. So many complimented G and E on their style, and Gideon had his picture taken by a writer for Antiques & the Arts Weekly.  We'll see if it runs!

3) My children are learning manners and increasing their attention spans.  I did get 30 minutes of quiet, attentive interest and active learning from the proceedings.  Possibly because they are required to sit quietly at church for 70 minutes each week and I take them to non-kid-friendly venues often, I feel like their attention span for adult activities is perhaps longer than it is for other children.  Eventually, through a lot of snacks, musical chairs, and a final 40 minutes of an iPhone learning game, I got a total of two hours out of them where I could pay a reasonable amount of attention to the auction.

4) I save an enormous amount of time and money finding and then paying a babysitter.  Although the morning was rushed, they had to sit quietly for much of the morning, and they napped in the car ride home, I am still better at taking care of my kids than anyone else.  And I didn't want to pay anything more than gas if the auction was to be only a learning experience - I'm too cheap to be super competitive in a large bidding crowd - I will fare better at smaller auctions. 

What are your thoughts on taking children to such events and venues?  Do you do it?  Do you just stay home or get a sitter?  

Small Wonders:
* Esther has become quite bossy.  She believes that she understands all that needs to be done (she often does), when, and how, and is determined to get it done that way - without your help or getting in the way.  Today at the auction house, Esther became quite insistent in her baby voice that I "no, no, leave alone and go away!" when I attempted to pry her away from the iPhone so I could place a left bid.  She was so serious and had the gesticulation and expression just right (palm out, fingers splayed, pursed lips and browed forehead) that all I could do was laugh (and figure out a way to keep G happy while I gave E the iPhone and took her with me on my little errand).
* Gideon very kindly will try to care for Esther when in distress - hugging her, trying to figure out what she wants and then doing it.
* My favorite Gideon-isms of late: arriving at the State Fair-which he remembered from last year- with only trailers in sight saying, "Wow!  There's so much to see."  Gideon has started calling Esther "little lady."  Not sure where he got that from.  He'll often say, "Um, sure!"
* Esther can now sing all of "Tickle tickle little star" and almost all of "I am a Child of God."

Hopkinton State Fair 2016

Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial.  Was deeply peaceful, despite all efforts of my munchkins to make it otherwise.

Still can't get enough of them pigtails.

Esther is the biggest rock hoarder.  She often clings to objects and carries them around, but has a special affinity for rocks, and will carry as many as she possibly can.

Little boy on the prairie. I swear he's starting to pose for the camera.

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