As I readied myself to resume my weekly outings with Noah (if you recall, the “actual” first was shoe shopping), I knew that there would be some changes from last year.
Last year I could have easily spent the day at a museum, with Noah content in the stroller for much of the time. Now I knew I’d have a shorter “window”, and would need to plan an additional activity – ideally of the playground variety – to round out the day.
This worked out well as I wanted to see an exhibit at the Whitney Museum, which is only a block away from Central Park. I knew we’d find a playground nearby, and as the day was beautiful and unseasonably warm we headed off to the Upper East Side!
If you read this blog regularly, you know that I’m typically a “downtown” kind of girl. The village, Soho, Tribeca – I much prefer the diversity, culture, fashion and overall vibe of those neighborhoods.
It’s so clean. And the sidewalks are wide and flat (cobblestones are totally charming but a real drag when you have an umbrella stroller in tow).
And the buildings, storefronts and tree-lined streets are truly lovely to look at – like walking through a real life “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.
And, truth be told, there is something oddly comforting about being surrounded by ALL THAT MONEY. I don’t know what it is – it’s not like I can relate to the doormen, “ladies-of-a-certain-age-who-lunch”, or tourists buckling under the weight of their many many shopping bags.
Of course I know that money can’t buy happiness. But it never fails – as I look around I always get a sense of calm and security – like somewhere, for some people anyway – all is right with the world.
The exhibit – “Fireflies on the Water” – was something I thought that Noah would love, but had to be planned carefully. I had read about the lines, the timed entry and long waits. I couldn’t risk an hour in line or a hungry toddler.
So we started the day with lunch at one of the last remaining “real” coffee shops in the city – Viand. It’s the kind of place where you can still count on a tiny paper cup filled with straight up cole slaw, a limp pickle and a proper grilled cheese sandwich. On white bread. With American cheese.
Really, is there anything better?
After lunch I strolled over to the museum. It was perfect – we were about 20 minutes early and the line was not long at all. Noah was a champ and waited very patiently.
A big NYC pretzel helped a little.
We poked around the gift shop till it was time to queue up to enter the exhibit. We sat in an anteroom and watched as a door opened and closed, in one-minute intervals, and people filed (one at a time) in and out of the exhibit room. Noah enjoyed scooching around the benches as we got closer and closer to the door.
Finally it was our turn – and it was awesome. A room completely lined with mirrors and filled with small colored lights. You entered via a walkway suspended over water, further enhancing the feeling that you were floating in space.
Noah was mesmerized, and I even got a few pictures in.
I’m sure those of you with “littles” can relate to the feeling of success when an outing that seems a bit challenging – outcome uncertain – actually goes off exactly as planned.
After our “minute” we headed over to Central Park to hit the first playground we found.
And lo and behold we wound up in the exact same spot that we visited on our first outing last year.
It was kind of magical.
I watched Noah climb, run and slide with more confidence. I patted myself on the back for (finally) remembering to pack a few sand toys on every city outing – just in case. And when I got home, I marveled at the changes in my little guy over the last year.
I hope that I can continue to “flex” as Noah grows and evolves, so that we can continue to explore the incredible culture that the city has to offer, and have some fun in the process.
If you’re in New York this month, “Fireflies on the Water” runs till October 27th. I highly recommend it. I also enjoyed this New York Times piece on the construction of the exhibit.
I’m curious – how do you manage to plan fun outings for everyone, while keeping up with your child’s growth and changes? Would you share your tips here?
Oh – and don’t forget to enter to win a copy of Dinner: A Love Story? I’m giving away a copy this week!