A Tale of Two City Field Trips

So. Remember last week how I was all “Look at me, rocking this Mommy gig?” Bwahahahaha! I forgot the cardinal rule of internet karma: NEVER blog parenting brags! Your baby potty-trained himself at age 2? Keep that to yourself. Newborn sleep through the night at a week and a half? Enjoy your sleep and SHUSH. Because as soon as you mention anything of the sort to the interwebz, you will be wading through pee and up at 2AM. Every time. Somehow it doesn’t work out in the other direction – I can complain about teething until I’m blue in the face, but it still just takes time to work through it.

You might be already getting the inkling that I had a Not-So-Great Parenting Moment recently, but first let me back up to a few weeks ago.

Saturday night, high off my getting-both-kids to bed skills and stir crazy after several snowy days, I bought last minute tickets to Sesame Street Live and prepared for a small adventure. By Sunday morning, I was less confident about my ability to wrangle both kids into the city and through the matinee by myself, but the tickets were purchased so off we went.

IMG_6973 We had a terrific day!
IMG_7005We were pleasantly surprised by free parking at the train station, and managed the voyage – with transfers! – into the city without a hitch.
IMG_7024We had a great time at the show.
IMG_7027Lulu got a bit tuckered, but a quick nap on my back and she was fine.
IMG_7030Both kids chose souvenirs at the show, and we managed to find our way home again, too.
IMG_7057We even brought home a treat for Daddy!

All in all? A Mommy win. Nothing to indicate that my children could switch personalities on a dime with little-to-no provocation. So I felt confident to head into the city AGAIN. The plan was to check out the last Olympics tour event at Grand Central and take the kids for lunch in the Dining Concourse, all bookended by train rides.

It started out well. We grabbed the train from North White Plains after getting to the station just in time.


The kids tried out hockey…

and luge…

and ski jumping. (They were supposed to email me the shot with something on the green screen, but I never got it. Sad face.)

Cole even got to try out the Olympic-themed WiiU game.

All was going well!

And then it wasn’t. I’m going to apologize for the lack of pictures in this portion of the story, but I didn’t have an extra hand for my phone.

As we were winding down our Olympic fun, a woman came around with small flags for the kids. She handed one each to Cole and Lu and went on her way through the crowd, while Cole and Lulu played with a little train set. Cole put his flag down, and 5 minutes later, as we were getting ready to leave, it was gone. He immediately wanted to find who took it, but I thought that plan was not our best option. I suggested that perhaps Lulu would share *her* flag, but BOTH children thought that was a terrible idea. Cole was teary and upset, but not overboard and I threw him on my back to calm down while I gathered our belongings to go down to lunch. Our “belongings” had grown a bit since we first arrived; at each Olympic station, the kids received a small souvenir – nylon backpacks, pins, scarves, hats, etc… so I was juggling all of that, plus the backpack I brought, Cole, and Lulu’s hand. I was juggling.

We went down to the food court and I told the kids they could each choose a treat after their lunch. I LOVE the Grand Central Dining Concourse; in addition to standards like pizza and hot dogs, there is a great Thai stall, and Magnolia Bakery has a cupcake stand! Cole requested fruit at the center kiosk and Lulu wanted a milkshake from the Shake Shack, so I grabbed a cup of cantaloupe and we headed over. By the time we got to the front of the line, our order was for 2 strawberry milkshakes, a diet Coke, a hot dog for Lulu, a shroom burger for me, a cheeseburger for Cole, and fries for us to share. The cashier handed me the buzzer and we headed over towards the counter to wait for our lunch to be ready.

We chatted with the people around us for the 5 minutes or so it took for our buzzer to light up, and then we went to grab our food. The guy putting our order on the counter asked if it would be okay to give the kids custard samples, and I agreed. While I was picking up the carrier with the drinks and balancing the flimsy cardboard box of our food on my other forearm, he handed Cole a teeny tiny tasting spoon with a bit of vanilla ice cream on it, and then one of the same to Lulu. Who dropped it. There was literally nothing I could physically do except watch as she picked the spoon up off the floor and popped it in her mouth, to the horror of the 20 or so people surrounding us. I laughed feebly and mumbled something about our family having a very liberal 5 second rule, while trying to usher Lulu toward the seating area.

Then she dropped the spoon again. The first time she dropped it, it had fallen so that only the plastic bowl part of the spoon had briefly hit the ground; this time it ended up face down and she set about scooping the ice cream off the floor. Of Grand Central. NONE of the gathered crowd offered any assistance as I tried to not drop all of our food and prod her along with my toe. I felt my cheeks flush and I started to sweat as I choked out “she’s got a really great immune system,” and hoped no one was calling CPS. Lulu, meanwhile, finished her plague-infested floor snack and started to wail about “more ice cream!” I tried to convince her that she had a milkshake waiting for her, but she was still verbally, loudly upset as we made our way toward the (all full) tables.

A group at one table took one look at us, and immediately fled, offering us their spot, and I got everything settled and threw french fries at Lulu to calm her down while I got our food set out: Cole’s cheeseburger (“with ketchup, Mommy!”) in front of him, Lulu’s hot dog in front of her, and my shroomburger nearest me. I had given the kids their shakes and went to take a bite of my sandwich when Lulu’s drink hit the floor. Because of the congestion of the seating area, and the arrangement of our chairs, I was unable to get to it before the entire thing had dripped into a sticky pink puddle under her seat. A guy at the table behind ours went off to grab the napkin container for me and alerted the staff that they needed to come mop. Of course now Lu was upset because she was out a milkshake, but I transferred some of Cole’s into her cup, and everyone seemed satisfied. There was a brief moment of angst because Shake Shack slices their hot dogs vertically to cook them on the flat top, so Lu was angry that her dog was “broken,” but I solved that by replacing it upside down in the bun, and sat back down for a second attempt at my sandwich.

A woman who had been near us in line when we were ordering came over to our table, and complimented me on my lovely children – I responded that she must not have seen the ice cream/milkshake performance, but she said that she did… She then gave Lulu a flower before walking away.

Okay. So Cole was already a bit on edge over losing his flag, AND he had just shared half his milkshake with his baby sister, so I could see that this silly carnation was going to be his undoing. It was two blooms on one stem, so I suggested to Lulu that I take one of the flowers and give it to Cole, but she was not having it. He reached over to take it from her, and just as I was telling him not to touch it, the second milkshake hit the floor.

Deep breath.  I went over to mop the floor up AGAIN, and had just crouched down when I heard Lulu screech “no, STOP it!” and then start *shrieking* because Cole had snapped off one of her flowers for himself.  I snapped at Cole that now NO one had a flower, and HE started crying, too.

You guys? It was almost all three of us in tears at the Shake Shack in Grand Central. The kids were both inconsolable – not that I could make much of an effort to console them, since I was trying to control the milkshake monsoon – and I was mortified. I got most of it up, and then scrounged all of the leftover food in the carrier to throw out so we could escape. (The kids had both managed to eat a decent amount, at least.) I slung Cole up onto my back, grabbed the three backpacks, and scooped up Lulu in the other arm. We managed to only knock into half a dozen people or so (small, congested table area + not-so-small me carrying armloads of belongings + two small screaming children = free birth control for everyone in the dining concourse!) before spilling out into the main hallway area.

By this time, Cole was horrified at how upset Lulu was (and probably sensed I was less than thrilled with him), and hiccuped apologies. They fell on deaf ears. You guys? She was NOT having it. That flower was her PRECIOUS, and he broke it. Clearly beheading would be too good for him.

I tried everything I could think of to calm her down: snuggles, apologies, bribes (Magnolia Bakery had free cake samples!), but this was the tantrum that wouldn’t end. If she was just a little more aware, she may have realized how particularly vulnerable I was at that moment; I would have promised her a PONY if she would have stopped screaming.

She was still sobbing at top volume when we got to the tunnel with our train, and I passed several cars before getting on one with the fewest people on it (the train was nowhere near full; the half dozen people in our car of doom could have easily defected and found other seats). I hissed at Cole that his job was to “SIT down and DON’T move. I have to deal with your sister,” and to his credit he was smart enough to be on his best behavior. I threw our stuff in the overhead shelf and continued to hold and sway Lulu and plead with her to calm down.

She had been crying so hard and for so long that her entire face was purple and mottled – it looked like she had hives, and I was beginning to worry a little about her breathing. Those of you who have been around here for a while know that Cole had colic and acid reflux, and spent the whole first 6 months of his life screaming – this put him to SHAME. No contest.

The doors closed and we began to move, and I shushed and swayed my hardest while apologizing profusely to our fellow passengers.  I had sincere concerns that we were going to be asked to leave the train at the first station and have no way to get home.

FINALLY, I managed to calm Lulu down; I randomly selected one of the other women on the train, asked Lulu to look at her, and then told Lu that the lady wanted to nap and that she didn’t want to ruin her sleep, did she? Miraculously, THAT was what soothed the sobbing, and then I was able to bribe her into further silence with the help of my phone and Peekaboo Barn. Cole didn’t even dare ask about taking a turn, and the rest of trip home was uneventful.

IMG_7210This was five minutes AFTER she had calmed down.

IMG_7216Aaaaannnnnnnd, of COURSE I got a parking ticket.

So. It will be a while before the kids and I strike off on our own into the city, methinks.

tl/dr: Sometimes I am a Mommy rock star, and sometimes I provide an entire subway car with free birth control.

NOTE: It is March. March in our house is school play and Lamaze clients and Purim Shpiel and Adam getting ready for finals and all of us getting ready for Pesach. I have a few posts in drafts, and I know I am WAY behind on Milestones for Lulu, but bear with us, okay? And if you know me in person and want to babysit my kids at all this month, let me know. We need help nearly every week! (Also, I just realized the joke it is having a babysitting plea at the end of this particular post, but they’re not always screaming. Promise.)


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  1. Oh, GIRL!!!! Been there, done that! I *so* feel for you…..AND THEN YOU GOT A TICKET?!?!?!?! Oh, Lawd. That is HARSH. HARSH I TELL YOU.

    You really made me laugh at the end because every time we have an outing like that I always, always say, “Well, at least we are an effective form of birth control for one of those people staring at us in horror.” 😀 –Lisa

  2. I could imagine how tiring the day was for you. At least you get to learn a new trick how to stop a child from crying in a train. 🙂

    • Yeah, it was definitely a rough day! Unfortunately, appealing to a 2-year-old’s empathy is rather unreliable… but I was very grateful that it worked that time!

  3. I saw that Lulu napped on your back for the good trip. Maybe she was just tired and needed to nap? When The Munchkin gets unruly, I take down The Bean and prop The Munchkin on my back. Soothes everything.

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