Empire State Building,
diner and a museum,
riding in taxis.
At about 10:30 on Thursday night, M and I got to talking. He pointed out the perfect alignment of the stars – a long weekend without work or school, his mom among the few people willing and able to take care of Ellie for an extended period of time. We wanted to do something fun with just the big kids. They’ve both been showing signs recently that they wanted and needed some more attention from us. This was our chance. But what to do? We wanted it to be more than just an hour or two at the aquarium or the Children’s Museum. We wanted to do something special.
And so, 12 hours after we got the idea into our heads, we packed the four of us into the car and drove south to New York City.
We didn’t really have plans. I made the hotel reservation about 20 minutes before we left. We checked attraction hours on my phone somewhere in the middle of Connecticut while the kids watched a movie in the back seat.
We ended up grabbing an early (by New York standards) dinner, and then started walking towards the Empire State Building. As luck would have it, we passed by the Lord & Taylor window displays on the way, and Rebecca insisted I take her picture with each of them.
We went up to the observation deck at the 86th floor of the Empire State Building (did you know it’s open until 2AM?), and it was a clear night to see all of the city lights below us. The kids didn’t last long, so we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel and crashed. The late night didn’t exactly mean the kids slept in the next morning, but oh well.
We had breakfast with friends, and then met M’s cousin for a trip to the Museum of Natural History. We found out how much we’d weigh on the moon, talked about the Big Bang, and checked out the marine life and the dinosaurs.
By 12:30, both kids were pooped and ready to go. And so, without a regret, we got in the car and made our way back to New England. (With a stop at M’s favorite Connecticut fast food establishment for a late hot dog lunch.)
With no offense whatsoever to our beloved Ellie, it was so incredibly refreshing and easy to do this little jaunt without a toddler in tow. We weren’t dragging a little one to things she’d hate, we weren’t spending our time and energy and attention to keep her from screaming. We could do whatever Daniel and Rebecca wanted to do, and stop when they were ready to stop. We could listen to their stories and jokes and questions without having one hand and both eyes on their little sister. It was really, really nice to be able to give the big kids about as much undivided attention as they could possibly want.
I’m not going to pretend that we had 24 hours completely free of whining and arguing, nor am I naive enough to suggest that this one day will solve any and all of our woes. But it was fun and surprisingly relaxing, and I hope it was a really special experience for the five-year-old crew. I’m happy we didn’t try to push anyone to do more or stay longer – this felt like we left while we were still having a good time, before anyone could fall apart. I’m putting it in the win column, for sure.