December 04, 2006

Slowing the Pace Down

Sunday was a day spent slowing down to the pace of a three year old.

By way of background, the Girl Child had a friend last year in pre-school. The friend had a mother who was possessed of a strange brand of militant feminism. She convinced the girls in the Girl Child's class that "girl power" was better than "boy power". This divisive nonsense has continued to this day and the upshot is that the Boy Child has become upset that he is a boy, that he has "boy power" and not "girl power" and that maybe he'd rather be a girl. I think that this is ridiculous. The Viking Bride thinks that this is ridiculous. I have come to loathe this other mother, by the way. This attitude is not what we want our kids exposed to or influenced by. So, it was time to take corrective action. It was time to show BC just how cool it can be to be a boy. And yes, he already knew that only boys can write their names in the snow, but we have not had any snow yet!

So, it was time for a Boys Day Out, just me and BC. We caught the 8:33 train out of Westport on Sunday morning to go into the City. As you may know, trains occupy a large percentage of his thoughts on a daily basis, that is, when he's not thinking about planes or buses. So taking a train was already a good start. He talked, loudly and excitedly, the whole way into the City. The conductor gave him his own ticket on which the conductor punched out a smiley face. More excitement!

We arrived in Grand Central and walked up to Madison Avenue to catch a bus. This was a big moment for him. We had to run a little bit but did manage to get on a bus going our way. The Boy Child yelled at me to sit down quickly because he was afraid the bus would start moving. When we got off, we had to pause to watch the bus head off again.

I had decided, while taking the train in, that we were going to have our Boys Day Out completely at his pace. So, if he wanted to watch a bus pull away from the curb, or even three buses pull away, that's what we were going to do, his little hand firmly tucked in mine.

We then walked off to a private club I am a member of, both of us in our blue blazers. We sat for a while in the Reading Room, overlooking Fifth, so that he could watch the buses go by some more. Then we took the "Elligator" down to the basement to have a swim. We stopped at the door so I could show him the sign -- "MEN ONLY" and he said to me, "I are a man!". We stripped down naked and hit the whirl pool which is really about the size of a kiddy pool. He liked it and enjoyed getting out to press the button to activate the jets. Again, we did whatever he wanted to do so we kept getting in and out to walk over to look at the lion's head fountain and to take long ways back because certain paths were "closed" and "the police might stop us". Eventually, I coaxed him into the big pool and we played on the steps there where I chatted with a much older man and told him about our boy-esteem building mission. He helped out by later telling the Boy Child in the changing room how much fun it was to be boy and the Boy Child agreed. The one thing the Boy Child did not care for was the sauna, but he gave it a shot.

After swimming, he kept me company and "we" shaved together. I put shaving cream on his hands and, after watching me, he rubbed it all over his cheeks so that he could shave too. He was concerned about whether the razor hurt and when I told him that it did, sometimes, he decided not to remove the cream with a razor but would wait until he was older. The other men thought he was adorable with the shaving cream on his cheeks. And, of course, he was.

Then we went up to see the Men's Squash Lounge and watch some other boys playing squash. I think he was getting a kick out of being only where boys were allowed to go. After a little squash viewing and some more elligator riding, we went off to brunch where after discussing how boys need to eat protein, the Boy Child was indulged to his heart's content (and the boy has a big heart) with the dessert buffet. He was, by this point, getting in to the boy thing because he called across the dining room to me when a woman came in -- "Pappa! There's a girl here!" I explained that it was ok.

After brunch, we watched some more buses go by and then, appropriately re-covered up, we walked the five blocks up to the Plaza Hotel building to see where Eloise lives. That was exciting for him since he likes the Eloise books. Then, we went into Bergdorf's Men's Store so he could push the revolving door. That was the whole point of that visit, to go through that. After Bergdorf's we made our way down Madison Avenue, pausing whenever a bus went by to watch its progress up the avenue. We continued our walk down, turning East on 54th Street again, where we happened to pass by the B. Club. The B. is an all male, very exclusive private club and I am not a member. So, of course, we didn't hesitate but went right in where, after explaining to the attendant what our mission was, were invited into the inner sanctum to see the huge Christmas tree and to be treated to a discussion by the attendant of why being a boy was so cool.

After leaving the B., we wandered into Citicorp Center where I recalled they had their display of holiday trains. It is, hands down, the most elaborate display of model trains I have ever seen. We spent an hour looking at it and I only managed to entice The Boy Child away by mentioning the waffles at the Norwegian Seaman's Church, where we were going to stock up on supplies for the Viking Bride. We continued our walk over there, on 52nd between 2nd and 1st. Are you getting the impression that for a little boy he did a lot of walking? Well he did and with not a single word of complaint, either. We walked totally at his pace.

The people at the Church were very nice and we shopped and got waffles and coffee (he declined a cup, although I offered, much to the horror of the older women who may not have realized I was joking). After our visit, we went off to catch a bus down 2nd to go back to the train. To the Boy Child's huge delight, it was a "tic-ya-lated" bus (an articulated bus). We rode all the way down, got off, waited to watch it leave, and he held my hand and skipped all the way over to Grand Central Terminal so we could catch our train, the 3:07.

His wonderful behavior continued for the whole train ride home. And to cap off the perfect Boy's Day Out, he captivated a five year old girl who was really adorable. She kept coming over to show the Boy Child her stuffed dog. Her parents had to yell at her because she wanted to keep talking to him as their stop came up. She made sure to lean in at the window and wave to him as she walked down the station platform. He is sure going to break some hearts, I think.

All in all, it was just a grand way to spend a day. And I thought you all might enjoy reading about it.

Posted by Random Penseur at December 4, 2006 11:13 AM | TrackBack

What a wonderful way to make memories for the both of you.

; )

Posted by: Christina at December 4, 2006 12:11 PM

Too cute, RP! Hope it was restorative for you!

Posted by: grammarqueen at December 4, 2006 01:20 PM

Sounds like a great day RP!

I've heard from other parents of boys that this seems to be somewhat of a disease, teaching girls they are more powerful than boys. And along with that is the overlooking boys and awarding girls.

Posted by: Oorgo at December 4, 2006 04:48 PM

what a lovely day for both of you. I hope that the BC enjoyed it as much as you clearly did!

Posted by: caltechgirl at December 4, 2006 09:41 PM

I'm almost jealous of the boys, now! :) Glad you guys had such a wonderful day.

Posted by: Hannah at December 5, 2006 03:18 AM

great tale! and a great antidote to that overzealous mom...

Posted by: Caroline at December 5, 2006 08:29 AM

Loved reading about it. Hold onto the moments like that. I remember "shaving" with both my boys (they had toy razors and would copy me).

Before I knew it, I was helping my 12-year-old shave for real just a week ago.

Where does the time go? Keep writing about it... your vignettes make fantastic reading.

Posted by: JohnL at December 5, 2006 12:02 PM

Hey Random! Wonderful post, I asked Dan to read it too and he said it made him a little teary, he liked it so much. Loved it too, thanks for writing this. :-)

Posted by: Amber at December 5, 2006 01:28 PM

That...was beautiful.

Posted by: MRN aka "The Husband" at December 5, 2006 04:18 PM

Your children are so precious I swear it breaks my heart.

Posted by: Helen at December 6, 2006 11:24 AM

That was a great story, RP. Being a boy in NYC sounds like a truly wonderful thing.

Posted by: Howard at December 6, 2006 03:37 PM

RP, I loved the story and although it is a grand story, I'm glad I didn't read it when I was a child in school. If I had, I would have grown up longing to be a Boy!

Much older now, but still, after that I feel a bit of a stir -- a bit of a longing to be a boy.

Posted by: Roberta S at December 7, 2006 05:16 PM


Posted by: Rob at December 10, 2006 10:05 PM