[Parentsgroup-list] More Free Things to Do With kids

Hoyte hoyte at fas.harvard.edu
Mon Jan 2 22:46:55 EST 2006

On Jan 2, 2006, at 4:47 PM, Ophelia Navarro wrote:

> Don't forget to check out the free (and not free) events listed on 
> this website.  It's got the most comprehensive list of activities, 
> play spaces, events etc etc..
> www.bostoncentral.com   See "events calendar"

BTW, I also like gocitykids.com

You can see the current day's events with no membership fee or the 
whole calendar with the yearly fee.  Many of the events are the same as 
bostoncentral, but there are some additional ones as well.

Speaking of free and not fee events, I'm going to share today's journal 
entry from a series that I like to call "Dark Parenting Moments"

January 2nd, 2006 --11 a.m.

There is no day care so I give up on getting any work done today and I 
decide to take my two year old son to the Aquarium for a "fun" and 
"educational" toddler-mommy day.  Feeling ambitious and environmentally 
pious, I also decide that rather than driving, we should take public 
transportation. Besides, I know how train-obsessed Sterling is.  He 
generally loves the train.

So I load up my backpack with:
a) diapers and changing pad
b) crackers, cookies and cereal bars
c) applesauce, a banana and cheese sticks
d) a juice box and sippy cup of water
e) a couple of board books in case Sterling is bored
f) a couple of small toys in case he gets bored with the board books
g) Elmo just in case
h) a change of clothing for Sterling in case of any typical toddler 
accidents (potty, puking, spilling etc)
i) at the last minute, I ditch my own book & magazine since the 
backpack now weighs more than the baby.  This is a big deal to me since 
I never go anywhere without at least one thing to read of my own.

Though already exhausted from the bag-packing, I bundle up both 
Sterling and me with various hats, coats, mittens, scarfs, boots, 
gloves, blankies etc.  Any of you who have tried getting out of the 
house with uncooperative toddler probably realize that the whole 
routine takes a LONG time and includes cajoling, struggling, giggles, 
running in circles, tears (from both child and parent) and is 
guaranteed to leave the mom sweaty and frustrated

We get in the car and drive 20 minutes to the closest subway station.  
The entire ride, Sterling shouts "No want to ride in train.  I want to 
ride in a shopping cart."  I convince him that riding the train will be 
well worth it since we are going to see some big fish.  He grudgingly 
accepts my reasoning but adds "Train then Fish then Shopping Cart."

So to get the the Aquarium from Alewife station requires riding three 
separate subway lines.  I've planned the trip such that we will change 
lines at stations which are handicapped accessible so that there will 
be elevators for the stroller (in which is piled a toddler, a heavy 
backpack, and a basket filled with sweaty hats/coats/sweaters etc.  I 
am stripping layers as we go).  However, at two of these stations, the 
elevators require hiking what seems like miles out of the way to switch 
lines and my son behaves like he is being tortured as we board each new 

The only thing that stops a total meltdown is my (forced at this point) 
cheerful silliness and the promises of the big Fish --a sort of pot of 
gold at the end of the subway line.  Finally however, he is so 
miserable that we get off the train two stops early.  There is no 
elevator at that stop, so everything comes out of the stroller and back 
onto our backs and bodies.  I'm six months pregnant and practically 
waddling, nevertheless, I carry my backpack and the 17 pound stroller 
up the stairs while coaxing a grizzling toddler every single painful 
step of the way.

Nevertheless, once outside, our moods brighten.  Despite the drizzling 
skies and puddles.  And though it is still a long walk to the Aquarium 
since we got off the subway early, I am pleased to say that Sterling 
had a great time there.  We spent several hours, stopping at every tank 
and window to look at the "big Fish" and turtles etc.  The man in 
flippers and a wetsuit feeding the fish was a big hit.

And despite my general exhaustion, I kept reminding myself that the day 
was not about me but about him.  So every time that he wanted to stop, 
we stopped.  Every time, he wanted to go, we moved on.  He rode the 
stroller when he wanted and walked, marched, dawdled when he wanted.  
We returned to the penguins multiple times where we had endless 
repetitive toddler conversations about how they were like duckies but 
not actually duckies and how funny it was that they quacked and swam.  
We ate cookies, crackers and more junk food than you could possibly 
imagine.  Sterling kept chortling "Me happy.  Mommy happy."  All good.

Finally, at the end of the day, we boarded the subway home.  This time, 
we rode all three lines since Sterling was asleep and could not 
protest.  The elevators were still a pain and smelly, but I was feeling 
generally quite pleased with myself.  The day only cost:

Parking: $5.00
Subway fare: $2.50
Aquarium admission: $15.95 (ouch)
Assorted junk that we don't need from the giftshop: $25.00
McDonalds (yuck): $10.00
My sanity: priceless

On the subway ride back to the car, I had nothing to read, but I 
consoled myself by admiring my new identity as the environmentally 
well-behaved super-mommy.  I deliberately ignored the nagging little 
voice inside that smarmily pointed out that for a few dollars more and 
a couple hours LESS traveling time, I could have driven all the way 
into the city in about 35 minutes and parked in the Aquarium lot.  We 
may have even come out ahead that way by eating lunch at home instead 
of McDonalds.  Or for no money at all, we could have stayed home, 
watched Barney and possibly been just as happy.  Or gone to Trader 
Joe's supermarket and ridden in a shopping cart/gotten a balloon and 
been happier (while getting my grocery shopping done).

No, I was a "good-mom" today and quite pleased with myself.  Around six 
pm, we got back to the car, and I lifted my sleeping son into his car 
seat.  He was conked out and I was even predicting that the poor thing 
was so tuckered out, he might just sleep all the way home and through 
the night.  He looked so angelic, smiling and still happily clutching 
the star-fish magnet that I bought him at the gift-shop.   "Kirsten, 
you did well!" I thought to myself.

As I buckled him in, his eyes popped wide open and clear as a bell, 
Sterling said to me, "Shopping cart now, Mommy?"  It is now 9pm, we 
have been home for a couple of hours, and he is still awake....

I am sure there must be a moral to the story --somewhere in there, 
there must be.  But at this point, I'm pretty sure that I'd prefer not 
to hear it.

Happy New Year everyone!

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