Perspectives: Vacationing in NYC
Cara here! The American half of this dynamic blogging duo is celebrating summer break with a vacation to one of the most amazing cities in the world: NYC. That’s right, “Start spreadin’ the news,” this Texas mama is visiting the Big Apple. (And, I have a picture of a big apple from the Rockefeller Center Lego store to prove it.)
Now the last time I was in the City that Never Sleeps was when I was in my early-30s on a girl’s trip with no kids and really not a lot of money. Seeing NYC as a married mom of three in her late 40s is quite different all together:
- • The last time I was here, I made sure to toss my coolest boots and heels into my duffle bag. This time I double-checked to see that my sneakers and Dr. Scholl inserts made the suitcase.
• Instead picking up a pretzel on the run between seeing the sights, I search for affordable restaurants with something healthy on the menu. (I highly recommend John’s Pizza at Times Square. Great food and interesting h
istory as an old church building.) • I used to be most concerned with someone stealing my wallet, and now I worry about someone stealing my kids. (Hey, this is Gotham City, is it not?)
• The nightlife was the thing—going to the theater, Time’s Square, bar hopping. Now, I collapse in the hotel room mindlessly watching shows like The Incredible World of Gumball until the snoring begins. (As a consolation, we can see the flashes of the massive Times Square media in our hotel window.)
• Contrarily, the DAY life is the thing now. It’s all about education: The Museum of Natural History (got to see the dinos), the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the 9/11 Memorial Museum and One World Observatory, the Math Museum (we have an engineer in the family) and the Museum of Modern Art.
- Sans kids I might have chosen a play like Kinky Boots, but looks like The Lion King this go around.
So far, we are only on day two of our trip to The City That’s So Nice, They Named It Twice. But, I have to admit I really like experiencing NYC as a mom. Last night we went to the Top of the Rock—the lookout platform at the top of Rockefeller Center. My three kids were mesmerized by the Metropolis’ expansiveness, the endless building heights, and the one giant spot of green in the center of it all—Central Park. As the sun set and the distant view of the Statue of Liberty faded, the city flickered alive with lights like fireflies waking on a summer night in the country. Of course, the Chrysler and Empire State Buildings were magnets, but they were equally impressed with all of the neon signs and the bright red lines from backed up traffic on the street. It was magical to see it all from their perspective.
Today we went to the Museum of Natural History. After watching all three Night at the Museum movies, I think they expected to be greeted by “Rexy” with a ball and Teddy Roosevelt on a horse. What they actually experienced was better. They learned that humans have occupied this planet far fewer years than all other creatures. They also learned that some reptiles on the Galapagos Island have adapted so well, they can actually drink seawater and sneeze out the excess salt. And, they learned how the world is trying to eradicate certain diseases through safe water and vaccinations.
If the museums and other sights have been their formal curricula, the their informal education has happened every time their sneakers have hit the gum-waded pavement. All the street noises, yellow taxis, people passing out pamphlets and flashing media have kept my kids in a perpetual state of awe. They no longer look down as they walk. Up is what makes their jaws drop. They wonder about things I just take for granted. In the past two days, these are some of the questions and statements my kids have made:
• “Why does steam come out of the circles in the street?”
• “Hey, there’s a small farm on the top of that building!”
• “Are there any swimming pools in New York?”
• “What language did he/she speak?”
• “Why do my ears pop in the elevators?”
• “Look at all those fancy purses for sale on the street. Why aren’t they sold in a store?”
All of these things are characteristically New York—part and parcel of the historical and modern layers of the city. My children are figuring this out just by walking the streets. It is a cultural education that does not require admission fees.
My children are 9, 11 and 12, and I wonder what they will remember from this visit. After all, my memories of childhood vacations are fuzzy at best. But, I hope this will not be their only visit to NYC. My wish is that they will one day take these memories and sensations and add them to others as they visit NYC during the various stages of their lives. Maybe then years from now, I can experience NYC again as a grandparent, and with any luck Kinky Boots will still be showing.