Overall, we had a great time though there are things that I won’t do again.
For example, we will never leave for a 9-hour road trip at 1:00am. The kids had fallen asleep at 10:00pm while we finished packing and tidying up the house. We headed straight for Stamford, Connecticut, where Ever-Patient’s cousin was our gracious host who let us stay in her home for the duration of our trip. We arrived at 10:30am. Though Ever-Patient and I slept for maybe a cumulative amount of 3 hours, the kids had only woken up at 9:00am (except for #5 whom I fed a few times during the drive). You do the math. They were quite well-rested to say the least and were excited about possibly going into the city and seeing their cousins whereas I wanted to curl up in the fetal position and pass out.
Here is another reason why I won’t leave at 1:00am again: your mind does not work the same at 1am as it does at 9pm. You forget things. No, we didn’t forget the passports, the camera, suitcases, diapers, or anything extremely vital to our trip. We forgot #4’s shoes, actually her flip-flops to be more precise. How does that happen? All our half-asleep kids with the exception of #4 and #5 walked to the car at 1:00am. Ever-Patient carried #4 to the van while I carried the baby. We had stopped for a pee break when the kids woke up and I told the kids to put on their shoes to go pee and to stretch it out. #4 kept saying, “I don’t have my flip flops.” In my groggy state, I kept saying, “Keep looking. They must be on the floor somewhere. Let’s go, c’mon!” She repeated, “I…DON’T…HAVE…THEM!!!” I turned to #2 and said impatiently, “Can you please look for your sister’s shoes?” After a few minutes, #2 said, “Mom, they’re not here.” I looked at Ever-Patient and we silently stared at each other while we could hear the wheels turning in both our heads. Crap. We forgot them. #4 interrupted our light bulb moment and said, “I have to PEE!” We are in the midst of toilet training but I had put her in a pull-up diaper for the car ride. The wheels continued to turn in my head: No shoes. At a rest stop in the mountains. Icky bug-infested washrooms. She’s in a Pull-up anyway. I’m super-exhausted. How bad a mixed signal would I be sending her if I told her to just pee in her pull-up just this once? I couldn’t do it. I picked her up and we went to the washroom which was in fact icky and bug-infested. It was quite the circus act and a workout getting her pull-up off and on. Yay…a small victory for mom putting principle and consistency before convenience. But ask me if I was thinking that as I tried to balance her on my knees as I held a squat for 30 seconds praying I was in good enough shape not to fall on my ass on the questionable liquid slime that blanketed the floor of the washroom.
Anyway, did I mention that #5 was in teething hell during the whole trip? Another “don’t”: Don’t go on road trips with a teething baby. Actually, don’t leave the house when your baby has 4 teeth coming out at once. He was feverish and irritable and definitely not his perky smiley self. He wanted me and only me and not only did he want me, he wanted to be carried by me. Not only did he want to be carried by me, he wanted me to carry him standing up and walking and swaying from side to side. And he would bite my shoulder or arm intermittently. When he was in the car, he cried if he wasn’t asleep. I sit diagonally in front of him in the car and he would contort his neck to look at me and frown-cry as if to say, “Why are you doing this to me? Don’t you love me?”
Another “don’t”: Don’t pass out without giving specific instructions to your children when staying in someone else’s house. Instructions like “Don’t touch anything that doesn’t belong to you” or “No hide ‘n’ seek” or “No playing with the blinds” or “No pillow fights with the fancy sofa throw pillows.”
We spent the first day resting and then went out for dinner with family. The kids met 2 cousins for the first time and of course, #3 immediately took one under her wing:
The next day we took the train from Stamford to NYC. Another “don’t”: Don’t take the local train when you can take the express train. We had just missed the express train to the city and hopped on the next available train. Had we waited for the express train that heads straight for the city with no stops as opposed to taking the local train which has a million stops (at least it felt that way) we would have shaved off 20 minutes of total time on the train. 20 minutes is a lifetime when you have a teething baby who won’t let you sit down and a toddler who was happy for the first 10 minutes having snacks and then decides to irritate each sister as a means to entertain herself for the rest of the ride. The one bright spot was watching #3 become exceedingly excited as we got closer and closer to the city. I swear she was a New Yorker in a past life. At one point, she stared out the window of the train and started softly singing, “New Yoooorrrrk…Concrete jungle where dreams are made of…there’s nothing you can’t do….” Hilarious.
We finally get to the city and make our way to Tribeca to go here:
Another “don’t”: If you have only one day in the city, don’t spend most of it walking even if it means you may not get to some cool places you’ve always wanted to check out. We originally wanted to spend most of our time in the Greenwich Village/Soho area so this was a major detour. It’s not so far if you don’t have a 5 year old and 7 year old trying to keep up in nasty New York summer heat amongst the hustle and bustle of the crowds. The kids enjoyed the arts and crafts projects, smoothies, and the funky forest at Moomah but was it worth the detour? Not so much.
Another “don’t”: Don’t expect to take a lot of pictures when you are busy taking role call every 90 seconds. Although I carried #5 in a wrap, I often was holding the hands of 2 children since Ever-Patient was pushing #4 in the stroller and #1 was taking her own pics with her own camera. And when I decide to take a picture, it’s a whole production – everyone has to move to the side of the street and wait patiently as Mama tries to capture a “candid” moment like this:
Another “don’t”: Don’t hype up a particular place unless you know for sure it is NOT closed and under construction. The last time we went, the kids LOVED the playground at Washington Square. LOVED. Next to Central Park, it was their absolute favourite part of the city. Since we weren’t heading all the way up to Central Park this time around, they were really really looking forward to playing in the playground at Washington Square. Of course, I didn’t bother to do much research before we left home since last time, we stumbled on so many wonderful surprises on our trip. And of course, we hike up to Washington Square only to see the entire playground area under construction. They are disappointed, hot, and tired from walking about 25 blocks. So what is a mom to do?
That’s right. They stripped down to their bathing suits and jumped into the Washington Square fountain. When we had first got there, there was no one in it. The kids were eyeing it as if it was an oasis and they had spent the last 40 days in the desert. They didn’t ask to go in although when they looked at me I knew what they wanted. They wanted to jump in. I looked around for any signs that would prohibit any type of wading and the only sign I could find was a “No dogs allowed in fountain” sign so I simply waved my arm signalling “Go right ahead” and they squealed with delight and headed in.
More from Washington Square and the dramatic conclusion of our road trip adventures tomorrow…
(I’m being dramatic…there’s nothing dramatic only more exhaustion of which I’m sure you’ve already guessed.)