Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Parents Unsupervised

Scene:  The Friday night before school vacation week in a family-friendly chain restaurant.  Mumma and Dada...hungry.  Madeline...hungry...and grumpy...and tired...and two...and.  The food arrives just as Madeline begins to cry at the top of her lungs because I will not let her play with my steak knife.  Eric and I lock eyes across the table in mutual frustration and despair.  Eric marches our squealing mandrake out of the restaurant while I signal the waitress for some to-go containers.

I love my daughter to the moon and back, but man, we needed a parenting time-out.  Luckily, just when I thought I was going to have to buy some earplugs and hang my daughter by her toes, the heavens opened and some good fairies sent us to the ball.  And by good fairies, I mean Eric's family.  

Eric's sister got the two of us a weekend in New York City as a wedding present, and over vacation, we got to use it.  Meanwhile, we handed off our precious bundle of love to doting and fresh-faced grandparents for two whole nights.  

A year ago I would have been nervous about leaving Madeline for two nights, but now that she's older and able to communicate I wasn't worried.  Besides, once she got to Nana and Pop's house with a room full of new toys to explore and people to play with, she couldn't get rid of us fast enough.  Maybe Madeline needed a break too.  
Thanks for getting rid of my parents, Aunt Carol.  God, they're so embarrassing.  

Once we got Madeline settled in, Eric and I trotted happily to the LIRR to begin our few days of precious alone time.

The first time Eric brought me to New York, I was underwhelmed.  He grew up in the area, but to me,  it just seemed like a really big, ugly city.  Where was Woody Allen?  Where was the Central Perk with its giant mugs?  Where were the cherry-blossom-lined streets from every Meg Ryan romantic comedy of my youth?  There was no Carrie Bradshaw trotting glamorously in five-inch heels past me on the sidewalks.  TRL doesn't even exist anymore.  My hopes were dashed.    

Yet, with every visit, the city has grown on me a little more.  It may not mesh with the stylized Hollywood version I was expecting on that first trip, but now I appreciate it for what it is.  It's a really big, ugly city that presents every opportunity imaginable for arts, entertainment, food, and culture.  The city really is quite amazing.      

During last week's adventure, we basically wandered around, looked at beautiful things, and ate...a lot.  

We went to places like 5 Napkin Burger  (which has a Boston branch...holla!) and Union Square Cafe.   We stopped in small dinners and bakeries along our walks across town.  I found real Belgian hot chocolate.

We saw tiny dogs without leashes in Central Park, and Monets in The Met.  I saw porcelain cow creamers in every color of the rainbow, and pet enough balls of yarn at Purl Soho to make Martha Stewart blush.  

Eric persuaded me to go to his favorite Jazz club at 11 pm.  (I'm usually in bed by 8:30.)   We listened to great music in a fire-trap of a basement while the subway rumbled past the building.  

We did not have to worry about rushing through lunch to get to nap time on schedule.  We slept in a bit later than usual, and we walked miles at our very own pace.  It was great.

Best of all, by the time our two days were up, I missed our Maddie Bear and was eager to get back to our regular routine with a renewed positive attitude.  After our mini break I was able to enjoy a week of snuggling around the house, visiting playgrounds, princess gawking, and basic Madeline wrangling.  

 Those good fairies really know how to show two parents a good time.   

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