I’m not sure how it happened, but somehow I just survived 3 days in New York City with three young boys (6, 3, and 1). It’s probably entirely related to the fact that I traveled with a good friend who is very easy-going, her 2-yr-old son and her nanny (whose back should be sore from holding my 1-year-old most of the time in a front-pack!).
I personally only had one minor explosion, I think — trying to navigate a stroller out of a narrow NYC Starbucks doorway on day one — with octopus hands lunging from both sides of the stroller and two boys fighting each other for the right to get through the doorway first, despite the presence of said stroller. And a very sweet woman holding the door open for me heard me mutter “I can’t do New York City by myself with 3 little boys.” Without a pause, she affirmed, “no, you can’t. It’s too hard.” Fortunately, my friend is wonderful enough that I repeated the same phrase to her shortly afterwards despite my usual hesitancy to ask for help. From then on, my youngest was graciously strapped to the nanny most of the time and I was able to have hands free for two other boys who liked to dart away.
I was pretty stressed about how Micah would behave during the trip, knowing that triggers for his outbursts include tiredness (how could he not be tired, traveling in a car for 9 hours, getting to bed late in a new environment, walking and sightseeing, pushing past thousands of people….), lack of consistency (every day we visited something different), and hunger (it’s hard to figure out new places and new food, finding food in time before blood sugar crashes, and really, where can you get “chicken nuggets and ketchup” in NY City?). So the fact that I only had one minor from him when he cut his lip on a water bottle (that he was trying to open with his teeth despite multiple reprimands to “never do that!”) and then again a few minutes later when waiting in the sun in a crowd of hundreds of people trying to get on the ferry leaving the Statue of Liberty island…Wow. I am impressed with him.
So here’s what I learned from our trip:
- No matter how impressive the “tourist” sites are in a new city, the most favorite place of all is the local playground.
- My 3-yr-old will continue to challenge his immune system no matter where we are. Apparently (according to the nanny), he ran his Hot Wheels pickup truck up and down the benches at the playground, through the sand, across the open rim of a garbage can, and then right into his mouth!
- Kids six and under have absolutely no concept of how high the Empire State Building is (nor do they care about the history of how it was built), but they sure are impressed by the 10-minute “Sky Movie” ride simulating flying over and around New York City (and bumping into people in Central Park and into a shark in the bay! Who knew there were sharks in the waters of NY City?).
- Any and all bottles of fluid, no matter how costly (even if $3 for 16 ounces), will be spilled – including red Powerade onto my fresh mozzarella and basil hot Panini sandwich that I was just about to pick up to eat.
- It is scary to think how easily the one-year-old could fit through the criss-cross wires on the observation deck of the Empire State Building – 86 floors up!
- It is important to travel with good friends who are comfortable letting each other’s kids take turns having melt-downs….as well as multiple requests to return to the playground.
- There are a LOT of dogs in New York City and one can get tired of the “can I ask the owner?” question prior to petting each and every one of them.
- I can see why New York City parents might worry about “nanny stealing” – there was a clear difference in the spectrum of nannies available for observation at the playground. I wanted to bring one of them home with us!
- There’s no guarantee of getting good sleep after a long drive. Got home at 1:30 am, tucked in the boys, and my head hit the pillow at 2:00am – and then some alarm on one of my running watches went off at 2:01…. and then the 3-year-old crawled into bed with me at 2:09 after a nightmare…ahhhh! But the sense of accomplishment this morning made it all worth it.
So, here’s a photo of our “calm and bliss” traveling together…but photos only capture the moments of glory. This was taken right after Micah’s first melt down and his refusal to accept an ice cream cone. So I held his which Seth shared with me and his white T-shirt. Noah also demolished one but not before it melted into a river dripping down his arms. Stickiness did not stop him from playing with the “coin” a friend gave him which he dropped over and over, bent down to pick up repetitively, and clearly has his right hand raised, playing with the quarter in his mouth. Seth was tired of the front pack and being given over to someone “new,” so clung to me. Micah’s shorts and my pants are red on the front from the Powerade that spilled on my lunch and the backpack holds tiny Statue of Liberty snow globes the boys picked out as souvenirs…among a TON of other heavy stuff. That’s the story behind this “calm” – and thank goodness there are moments of tenderness like this. We might even go again some day!