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“My Seven Crazy Cousins Take The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

” -- Wynne Williams-Ceci
Scholastic Art & Writing Awards

For most people, a holiday break is a time for relaxation, catching up on sleep, and maybe even
vacationing somewhere warm. For me, though, the beginning of a holiday break is a harbinger of
impending chaos and disaster, because it means I’ll be seeing my extended family - specifically my seven
crazy cousins, the Simons. The Simons are an incredibly kind and generous family, that can’t be denied,
but anything you do with them turns into a fiasco due to their lack of parental supervision, the fact that
they’re all under age eighteen, and most importantly their rowdy and destructive nature. Thanksgiving
break of 2017 was no exception.

My family pulls up to the Simons’ driveway and we all remain in the car for a minute, enjoying what we
are positive will be our last moments of silence until our ride home that night. My aunt told my mom in
an email on several occasions that she had something special planned for the day, and we’re all on
tenterhooks wondering what exactly we’re in for. Despite being 8:30 in the morning on a weekend, all
seven of my cousins are already running outside playing various games of tag and dodgeball, and I realize
that they have likely already been up for hours. You would think that this would cause them to become
tired by around dinner time, but somehow it never does. Before we can even exit the vehicle, the Simons
greet us in the form of a basketball thrown right at the hood of our car, which is promptly followed by a
chorus of “sorry!”. I see my mom say a quick prayer and then we all leave the car, trying to prepare for
the craziness that we know will inevitably follow.

Once we have hugged and kissed each of my seven cousins, we enter their house to see my aunt and uncle
who, as always, appear to be extremely harried and disheveled. My aunt runs around the house picking up
toys while intermittently asking us questions about how are years have been, trying to catch up. After
about an hour of this she finally takes a rest and sits down with my family, which is when she tells us her
“exciting plans for the day”. My aunt tells us that she has prepared for us all to ride in her van to the
center of New York City so that we can all walk around the Metropolitan Museum of Art together. My
initial instinct is excitement, because I love museums, which is quickly followed by a wave of dread when
I realize that I will be visiting a classy tourist attraction filled with valuable artwork with the most
destructive people I know. My aunt also adds that since my uncle is at work and my family is only three
people, there are still four available seats in her fifteen passenger van, so naturally she invited her
neighbor’s four children to join as well, because “the more the merrier!”.

We all pile into the van, which is truly more like a bus, and my aunt gets behind the wheel. She remarks
that she hopes we don’t encounter too much traffic on the trip because the brakes on her van are “a little
shot” and have needed to be replaced for several months. I wonder how she figures that there won’t be
traffic the day before Thanksgiving in New York City. Once we start getting close my mom asks what the
plan is for parking the huge vehicle. My aunt responds that she didn’t make any arrangements, and was
hoping that we would figure it out once we got there. My aunt pulls into the clearly marked “bus only”
lane next to the Met Museum and tries to park, but soon realizes that she isn’t allowed to when a huge bus
pulls up behinds her and honks. We quickly mapquest the nearest parking garages but are turned away
from each. As soon as we pull in the garage workers wave their arms and yell “No! No! No! Too big!
Won’t fit!”. Our last resort is to drive around until we find an empty lot, many blocks from the museum,
that charges $60 an hour.

By some sort of miracle we all make it inside the museum, and right away I realize that there is no way
we will be leaving without losing at least one child. The museum is filled with groups of people running
around chaotically and is extremely crowded. Once we finally get to the exhibits I am horrified to realize
that my cousins have brought in their loud, obnoxious toy called a “bop it”. Adults all around the museum
flash us dirty looks as they try to appreciate the artwork over the loud toy. As the Simons walk around
and continuously touch the off-limit exhibits, we somehow accumulate several guards following us in a
very non-discreet way, stopping every so often to yell at one of us for getting dangerously close to the
expensive artwork. Even though throughout our course through the museum our group breaks apart
several times (on several occasions I’m fairly certain that my 10, 6, and 4 year old cousins were walking
around alone) we all make it out in one piece and walk the blocks to my aunt’s van.

There were some driving scares on our ride back. For instance, my aunt who insists on the fact that she is
a “very good driver” did turn onto a 6 lane one-way street, and made a quick U-turn before the stoplight
changed to green and cars kept coming. This horrified my family, but didn’t seem at all out of the norm
for the Simons. Once we start getting somewhat close to the house, my cousins call and order pizza,
mentioning that they hope the pizza delivery man doesn’t arrive too early that we aren’t back yet, which
apparently has happened before, more than once.

We finally pull into my cousins’ house and walk in to say goodbye to everyone, knowing that we must
leave soon since we have a long ride ahead of us to get back to our home. The Simons, being very
generous people, offer for us to stay over, but my mom quickly declines and I know that she would likely
rather drive through rush hour traffic than sleep here. My mom is a migraine- sufferer, and I can imagine
that she wouldn’t be able to survive the constant noise from the Bop It and my cousins’ family band
practicing for more than a couple minutes. We start to make our exit, excited for the prospect of some
peace and quiet, but I don’t make it out of the door fast enough to miss hearing my aunt say that she
hopes we can make the same trip again next year, but maybe with a bigger group, to “liven things up”. I
shut the door and walk out, preparing for the fact that the next time I see the Simon’s will likely be
another adventure.

© Wynne Williams-Ceci