White Knuckle Parenting: Magic in the Mundane
The Metro trip with my kids that I expected to be a hassle and a half turned out to be an exciting adventure. It turns out that even older kids can find magic in ordinary places.
One of the really wonderful things about having kids is seeing the world through their eyes. For instance, when they're babies and they see a cat and it is like, "Oh, good lord, what is THAT? Because it is AMAZEBALLS!"
Then they are toddlers and the little wooden climbing structure at the playground turns into an epic pirate ship that transports their little imaginations around the world and you are reminded of what it is like to be able to see the possibility in anything.
Once your kids are a little older—say ages 7 through 11, like mine are—these moments come less often. Don't you worry though, because they still happen.
I took all three of my kids on a Metro trip last Friday. Living in the DC area, this may not seem like that big of a deal, but for a long time, I was afraid to take all three of my kids on a train. I was fairly certain that one child would bolt from the train at a random station, one of them would fall on the tracks, we'd end up on the news, and it would turn into a whole THING. It is only recently that I have started to feel confident about my tri-child containment strategies in dangerous places.
They've taken the Metro before, but not very often. Our Friday trip was definitely an anomaly for them. I don't know if it was the novelty of the trip or what, but it was fantastic.
From the moment they got on the super long escalator at Wheaton Station, they were entranced. The youngest was also a little scared of the escalator though. You can't really blame him, can you? I mean, come on, you've been on that escalator, right?
Fortunately, we were only four minutes out from a train arriving, so I forced them all to sit on a bench as I fielded their questions.
If I fall on the tracks, will I die? Yes. Yes, you will. Stand back.
If I eat on the train, will I be arrested? Hopefully not, but possibly.
Is there a court in the train station? Probably not, but that sure would expedite things.
By the time we got on the train and everyone found their own seat (this involved a fair amount of trying many different seats all over the car), they were completely sold on rapid transit. There was enough room for everyone to lie down on a seat, there were tunnels, and they could even pretend they were underground in their imaginary Minecraft world.
The wonder didn't end there though. There was graffiti outside the window! There was a crane! There were dark walls whooshing by at warp speed!
By the time we passed Union Station, there were enough people on the train that I made my kids double up in their seats. My middle son moved into an aisle-side seat on a bench with me as we rode through a completely dark tunnel. He turned to me with an upset scowl on his face and said, "Now I can't enjoy the view!"
Being the sacrificing mom that I am, I switched seats with him so he had an unobstructed view of the darkness.
We were only going one way on the train, so our exit was the last chance to run our tickets through the turnstile (Putting paper into a slot! So fun!) and our last chance to ride the escalator (Stand on the right! Walk on the left!).
We had a blast. The time flew by and I've never laughed so much on the Metro. It's funny, because I had taken that exact same train trip two days prior by myself and it was nowhere near as fun as it was with my kids.
It just goes to show you that sometimes the most mundane things can be fun and delightful when looked at through the right eyes. Now that I know how much my kids enjoyed themselves and also now that I know that they are unlikely to dart off a train without me, I might just make the Metro a more frequent experience.
I might even look for other commonplace activities for which they can show me a whole new side.
Jean, a.k.a. Stimey, writes a personal blog at Stimeyland and runs an autism-events website for Montgomery County, Maryland, at AutMont. You can find her on Twitter as @Stimey and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Stimeyland.