Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Q. When is a Family not a Family?

A. When the family has more than 4 members.

Evidently I've been feeling a little crotchety lately, but there are a couple of things that are always guaranteed to tick me off. One is children being hurt as a result of adults' actions (see my previous post); another is when groups or organizations decide what constitutes the "correct" family size. Before I go on, I will admit that we have chosen to have a larger than average family, and do not expect special accomodation as a result. But I do expect clarity in language...don't say one thing when you mean another. When someone says "family" I take that to mean two adults and all of their children. I do not take it to mean 2 adults and 2 children. That is not my family, nor is it many other families that I know. How are we expected to choose which children to leave home? Draw straws?

The two areas that seem to have the most egregious offenders are contests and museum membership/entry prices. The most recent contest I came across is from Colorado...the Family Adventure Package [ http://www.letstalkcolorado.com/familypackage.html ] for You and three family members. Wouldn't it have been just as easy to say Group Adventure Package? It doesn't conjure up the same warm fuzzy feeling as "family", but then leaving people home doesn't seem very warm and fuzzy, either.

While annoying, the whole contest-thing doesn't bother nearly as much as museum memberships. Contests are completely extraeneous to life, but I love museums; I love to share them with my children, and I think my children benefit greatly from the exposure. We have many museums in the Chicago area and they run the gamut of how family-friendly their memberships are. The best one, in my opinion, is the Museum of Science and Industry [ http://www.msichicago.org/ ]. A family membership is just that. J, E, and all the younger Currys are welcome to come, no matter how many we are. I believe this is smart business for them. Sometimes, though certainly not always, we will purchase snacks or other things. The more mouths we bring, the more snacks we buy. Plus, that is a lot of people who grow up enjoying the museum and are likely to want to share that same experience with their own children.

On the other end of the spectrum is the Shedd Aquarium. My children love this museum, but I'm afraid our days of purchasing a membership are numbered. And, with no membership, there is no way I'm paying admission prices. We just won't go. I find the Shedd's membership policy to be extremely punitive to large families. Their family membership includes 2 adults and 4 children [ http://www.sheddaquarium.org/membershipbenefits.html ]. If you have had the gall to go past this number, you will pay an additional $15 per child. I find it hard to believe that a small 3 year old costs them $15 in maintanence a year. Also, by feeling gouged at the membership desk, I am far less likely to spend any extra money inside...they have enough of my money. To make matters worse, when J wrote complaining about their policy of only four children, a representative wrote back that perhaps we didn't know about the opportunity to purchase a membership for each additional family member. Gee, I don't know why I'm not jumping around all excited about this information, because, you know, I just sit around wondering how on earth I'm going to spend all my money....NOT! If this policy annoys you as much as it does me, perhaps you want to drop this institution a note [ http://www.sheddaquarium.org/contactus.html ].

In the mean time I have better ways to spend my money...food, clothing, property taxes...so we'll patronize the establishments who really are family-friendly. And maybe we'll buy a fish.

3 comments:

Me said...

I've noticed that a lot in Chicago as well. We live an hour south and love to go to the city. Love Lincoln Park Zoo, but the parking price stinks. :) We haven't tried Shedd, but glad to know their policy. Thanks!

Nicki said...

We are having this same issue currently. We wanted to buy a membership to the Houston Natural Science museum and they have the same policy as Shedd except when we asked what we would do about our additional kids over 4, they told us to buy a whole additional membership! This is insanity to me. The zoo here does the same thing. A family is two adults and 5 (lucky us, one extra than other places) children. What ever happened to just allowing all minor children? Because seriously - how many families do they have who have tons of children anyway? Its not like they are getting ripped off from all the bazillions of 7-children families so they have to cut it off!!! What about all those families with ONE child to balance it out? Ugh, it just steams me right up!!!!!!!!!!!

thecurryseven said...

I guess that is one thing that I find so baffling about this. In the overall population, really, how many people have more than 4 children? Sure there are some of us around, but I can't believe there are enought to ruin their budget. That is why it feels so punitive...it can't really hurt them to let us bring in 6 or 7 minors...but it is as if someone, somewhere, has an ax to gring.

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