Saturday, June 25, 2011

New York City, a True Story

Warning: this is not your (or my) typical travelogue.

We planned one last trip to New York City before we left the Northeast. Marty found a great deal on priceline for a hotel, so we even planned an overnight, to which he added a second night as the time got closer. Two whole nights in the Big City (as Oliver calls it)! We planned the trip to be as Oliver-friendly as possible: American Museum of Natural History to see the dinosaurs, the Children's Museum of Manhattan to see the new Curious George exhibitions, Coney Island, the Aquarium, seriously, a toddler's dream vacation. What could go wrong? Oh, we took a toddler.

I know I tend to write my blogs emphasizing the great times we have, and honestly, in the two years of this adventure, Oliver has been an amazingly good traveler. We have been very lucky in that, I know. Overall, Oliver is a pretty easy going kid. But, as with any 3 year old, we have our share of tantrums, fits, and whining. I probably should write about the bad as much as the good, but what can I say, I think the purpose of this blog, for me, has become a place to record our memories of the fun times we have had. I mean, who wants to read about temper tantrums all the time? I know I certainly don't want to spend my rare free-time writing about them. In fact, I'll be brutally honest and say that the last thing I want to do is write about Oliver on those days when he's driving me nuts. I want to spend my "nap" times escaping that part of my life. Have you noticed I haven't kept up with my desire to blog once a day? Yeah, put 2 and 2 together, and now it makes sense.

Day 1

 On the train, excited to be going to the Big City!
What you don't see: how much he whined "I wanna be on the traaaain!" before we got on board. Or the instant we were on board, the 239 times he whined, "I wanna go see the dinosaurs!" instead of just enjoying the ride.

 I'm not sure if this was mid-whine or mid-yawn.

 At the Chidren's Museum, my little architect!
What you don't see: Marty and I trying to explain to him, over and over again, that we couldn't just get off the train and magically appear where the dinosaurs were. First we had to go to the hotel to drop off our bags, and because there was only an hour before lunch, we were going to the Children's Museum first, then having lunch, then seeing the dinosaurs. Finally, the magic words, "Curious George is there" did the trick. Not that he would let us take his picture with the Curious George statue they could sit by. Nope, not having it.
What you also don't see: the humongous crowd at the Children's Museum, our fault for going on a Sunday morning I guess. Two parents to every child. Cameras everywhere. A nightmare of toddlers all wanting to play with the same toy at the same time.

 My little builder, making a wall on the cute rainbow bridge.
What you don't see: the screaming raging fit he had anytime any other kid came near his creation. Sharing was not part of his vocabulary that day. Unforutnately, at a Children's Museum, there are kids everywhere, and they all want to play with everything. So it was a fit at every station. Let's just say that Oliver doesn't have to know that there were 2 more floors and an outdoor area. We were out of there!

Finally, at the American Museum of Natural history, and seeing the dinosaurs!! Oliver's probably asking, "Daddy, what's that one called?" Because we had to name them all.
What you don't see: Him barely eating his lunch at the Shake Shack before the museum, because all he wanted to do was "GO SEE DINOSAUUUUUURS!" Yeah, so now we had a whining, hungry toddler. So fun.

 Oliver and Mommy, in front of the Mammoth that was found on my grandparents' farm in Indiana. My grandpa was so proud of that fact, and we had come to see it years ago when they visited me when I lived in New York. It was so cool to be able to get a photo of Oliver with me in front of it.
What you don't see: Getting Oliver to come sit with me for the photo. I can't believe we even got a smile out of him.

 Daddy and Oliver checking out the dinosaur timeline on the computer. This kid is seriously obsessed with dinosaurs right now!
What you don't see: They had one of these computers about every 20 feet. And they are too tall for Oliver to operate, so one of us had to pick him up to look at it every time we passed one. The thing is, they are all the same!!! Same info, same buttons, and yet, we had to check out every single one. I think he spent more time looking at those things than his beloved dinosaurs. Hey, we're all about education, but that is ridiculous!

What you also don't see: Once we were done with the dinosaur area, he didn't want to see anything else, no animals, no cultures, no cool planetarium with stars and planets. Nope. All he wanted was to go to the Dino Store (yes, he called it that), and get the all important Dinosaur Sticker Book. And leave the museum immediately and "Go to hotel!" so he could do the sticker book. We thought it might be fun to walk in the park, and maybe find the carousel (though we didn't tell him that part in case we couldn't find it). Nope. All he wanted was to "Go to hotel!" By that point, we were exhausted anyway, so we obliged, and found a subway. Of course, we had to change trains, so it took a while to get back to the hotel, so we (and all the subway passengers) had to endure his whining the whole way there. Finally in our room, we collapsed on our beds while Oliver went sticker crazy, only to finish the Dinosaur Sticker Book in about 30 minutes, at which point he started begging for a new one.

Highlight of the day: After dinner, Oliver begged to go "to the red stairs!" in Times Square, which he remembered from our trip here last fall with Grandma and Pop-Pop. So we went over there, only to find that it was Tony night, and so there were media everywhere. We got seats on the red stairs, and just watched the people. Oliver tried to count them (Marty got a pic of this, but it's on his phone). We even saw Samuel L. Jackson being interviewed!

Day 2
What you don't see: Because of Marty adding another night to the trip, we ended up at 2 different hotels, in 2 very distant parts of town (don't ask, it's a long story). The good news was that they were on the same subway line. The bad news is that we did not wait until long enough after rush hour (this was Monday), and made the near fatal error of getting on the extremely crowded, hot, standing room only subway with a tantrumming toddler and our suitcase (it was a tiny one!). I was the kind of person I hated when I lived in New York. Oliver was freaked out because there were too many people, so I totally understand why he was upset, and actually don't blame him. This one was all on us for even attempting it. I wanted to scream and cry too.

After dropping our bags off at the hotel, already exhausted but too early to check in to our room, we took the subway out to Coney Island to see the sights, including the New York Aquarium.
What you don't see: The subway ride took an hour. It was ok because it was not crowded at all, and I think we were all happy to be just sitting and not sweating. We read a dinosaur book. It was mostly calm, though we had to endure the whine of the day: "I wanna go to Aquariuuuuuuuum!" and "I wanna see the jellyfishhhhhhh!" Yes dear, we're on our way to the Aquarium. But every time the train stopped and we didn't get off, the whine started over again. There are a lot of stops in an hour trip out to Coney Island!

 Oliver loved the fish!!
What you don't see: Once we actually got to the Aquarium, you'd think he'd be content, right? Ha! Then the whine turned into "I wanna see the jellyfishhhhhhhhh!" which were, of course, the furthest from the entrance. He also threw a huge tantrum when we went to see the sea lion feeding show, saying he didn't like sea lions, the same sea lions that have been his "favorite" at the last 3 zoos we've been to. I swear, even the sea lions were staring at us. Finally, he calmed down enough and dare I say, actually enjoyed the show a little, though he couldn't show it. We walked around some more and then we'd seen it all, but he kept begging to see more fish. Eventually, we did get to leave.

 Daddy and Oliver on the boardwalk at Coney Island.
What you don't see: the screaming fit when I tried to put on his sunscreen. As if I were killing him or something.

 Oliver and I also posing in front of the ferris wheel.
What you can actually see: my inability to form my muscles into a real smile at this point of the day. Oliver's attitude is covered with his ever-stylish Elmo sunglasses.

 Mr. Attitude, spoiling a great photo op in front of the mural. He had stolen my lemonade and was refusing to return it.

And refusing to have any fun at all. 

 What you can plainly see: We are done. 

We took a quiet subway ride back to the hotel, rested for a bit, then walked over to South Street Seaport for dinner, where Oliver read "Red." 

Day 3
While our survival instinct was to take the first train out of the city and back to Connecticut, we hated to think we had wasted that extra night at the hotel, and it was a new day, maybe it would be better! We didn't have anything big planned. We knew we had to stay in the Financial District area where our hotel was, until after rush hour was over. So we decided that after breakfast we'd go to Battery Park, maybe find a playground for Oliver, and get to see the water. If we felt like it, we'd take the Staten Island Ferry for a free ride past the Statue of Liberty.

Our first mistake of the day was leaving the stroller in the hotel room. We figured we'd be in the general area, and sometimes a stroller is more difficult to maneuver through the crowds and intersections. Marty said if Oliver didn't want to walk, he'd ride on his shoulders. Marty's poor shoulders. Because Oliver didn't want to walk, not one step. 

 We found a playground at Battery Park! Oliver was thrilled to find a play area.
What you don't see: Mommy and Daddy were less than thrilled with this old, broken down playground. Half the apparatuses were roped off with Caution tape because they were in such bad disrepair. Seriously, it was a trip to the emergency room waiting to happen. Thank god for tetanus shots!

Of course, Oliver did not want to leave.

 In the park, watching a fountain. Oliver was pouting because he didn't want to leave the playground, nor did he want to walk, not even in the park! 

 But the fountains were fun, spraying in various patterns, so I did catch a glimpse of a smile.

Mommy found a cool wall outside Castle Clinton in the park the for what I thought would be some great photos. However, I had an uncooperative subject yet again. A cranky, whiny, unhappy boy.

What you don't see: Mommy calling the trip done. No ferry ride, I mean what was the point? We planned this entire trip around things we knew he would enjoy doing, and we got nothing but grief! If we knew we were going to be dealing with this attitude the whole time, we would have planned to do some things that we wanted to do instead. So we went back to the hotel, got our bags, and got on the subway back to Grand Central (it was past rush hour, thank goodness!). We thought we'd get an early lunch there, but the thought of spending an extra hour there was too much for all of us, so I ran into a store and grabbed some Chex Mix, Fig Newtons, and drinks, and we got on the next train. Best train ride ever. 

I know, you're probably thinking, well of course he was whiny, that is a hard trip for a 3 year old. Yes, it is. However, we'd been to NYC multiple times, and he's done great. Somehow, this time was different, and I think it's his age. He's just in that "I want X and X is going to be the opposite of what you want and I want it now and I'm not going to take no for an answer without throwing a fit" stage. In short, he's 3. I am so ready for 4. And I also know, some of you out there are also thinking, "Man, she sure is whining about her kid a lot!" Ironic, isn't it?

What you don't see: Oliver and I in the grocery store the next day, where he is in time out for having a fit because I brought goldfish for his snack instead of the new and exciting Chex Mix that we had on the train the day before. Yes, the goldfish that he has asked for for every morning snack in the past, I don't know, 2 years. How dare I forget to bring any Chex Mix! And so goes my days . . .

1 comment:

  1. My son had a "Chairplane" just like Oliver's. He is now 33 yr and is wanting to purchase one for his nephew. Can you tell me where to get one? We can't find it on the internet.