Do you mind if I tell you how the mother of a newly minted two-year-old celebrates the birth of her second child? How she thinks he would like to spend his day? How she decides to show her love for him and her happiness at having him in her life? Please? It will only take a few moments.
She insists they go to Battery Park. She thinks the birthday boy would like to watch the boats and the planes and the helicopters. She takes three trains to get there, not because the birthday boy is so in love with trains, although he does enjoy them, and certainly not because it is the most efficient way, but because she 1. doesn’t realize that there is another way that is much more efficient and 2. doesn’t realize that her chosen train line is under construction. The mother (and her children) get to the park well after noon, but they get there. Let the fun begin!
Except, wait. Birthday boy seems to be, um, less than excited, or possibly terrified, of the boats docked along the pier. So much for that idea. But maybe she can get a picture anyway? Just one? In front of the fire boat? Birthday boy clings to her as though they share a pair of lungs. Hmmm. Guess not.
Big brother is ready to take charge. With Mom snapping pictures every few seconds and birthday boy running to her at the sight of every pigeon and boat, someone needs to get the show on the road. And the boy knows which road to take: the one that leads to the Staten Island Ferry. He’s pretty sure they can make it if Mom will just put the camera away and MOVE. They do make it. They find seats on the Statue-of-Liberty-side (that is the technical term for it) and settle down to a gourmet birthday lunch of apple slices, cheese sticks, and pb&j (on homemade whole wheat bread!).
Birthday boy is fairly oblivious to both the boat and the water, having lost himself in apples and peanut butter (at least Mom did something right). But big brother is on the prowl for a window seat. And what luck! A man has opened a window to get a better photo of Miss Liberty and everyone in the path of the sudden wind has gotten up to move. Big brother snags an open spot and Mom and birthday boy follow along and pretend not to notice the wind, at least until someone else points out to the man by the window the discomfort he is causing his fellow passengers.
The ferry docks at St. George Terminal. Mom tries to play it cool as she winds her way through the crowds, holding on to the reluctantly offered hands of her two sons. She looks down every other second to make sure they are still there. They make their way to the waiting area and stare at fish in an aquarium until the next Manhattan-bound ferry leaves. This seems to be the high point for the birthday boy, who says, “Happy fish! Happy fish!” and stares up at them. Big brother, meanwhile, has noticed something with a touch screen and is somewhat impatiently waiting his turn to find out what it is. The previous users get out of the way only when it is announced that the ferry is boarding. The boy frantically pushes as many icons has he can before getting on the boat.
The Statue-of-Liberty-side is crowded. Big brother wants a window seat. He insists there is one on the lower level, so the “party” makes its way down the ramp, down the stairs to find that he was right. It’s practically deserted. There are rows of empty seats along the windows. The boys perch on the seats, chins on the sill. Mom thinks it looks like a great location for a photo shoot. Big brother is uncooperative. Mom ignores him. It’s birthday boy’s day anyway. She takes a ridiculous number of photos.
Time to go home. The train station is nearly empty, or seems to be. An MTA employee walks by pushing a trash can and holding a broom. She greets the boys. Mom says hi, too. Miss MTA stops. She talks. She talks some more. She gives the safety lecture about holding Mom’s hand, staying back from the ledge, not running on the platform. She says to get to the middle of the track and lie down flat if you fall in and a train comes. Mom assures her she has plenty of nightmares regarding children and train tracks, and thanks her for the reminder. Big brother and birthday boys listen quietly, or possibly don’t hear at all. Mom is not sure which is worse.
The train doesn’t come for at least ten minutes. Birthday boy is fast asleep by the time they get home.