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Preschool Commuting Memories - Mo's Journal
June 17th, 2010
01:20 pm

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Preschool Commuting Memories
Especially for ringthebells who will be commuting with her adorable son:

When Doran was my only child, I lived in a faraway land. Well, truth be told it was a faraway neighborhood in Brooklyn, called Bath Beach, and I worked in lower Manhattan. Doran went to day care/preschool in Battery Park City, not far from where I worked. This was, of course, by design. It allowed me a longer work day, since he could be dropped off at 8:00 and picked up at 6:00 and if I wasn't done then I could bring him back to my office and finish up (I had emergency toys there for just such an eventuality).

We commuted by bus, since there was fast and efficient express bus service from my neighborhood to lower Manhattan. We picked the bus up only a block away from my apartment building and had about a 10-minute walk on the other end to get to his school.

Mostly I loved commuting with Doran. We did this from when he was almost 2 until he was 4.5 and those are great ages for traveling with a kid. We'd talk about all sorts of stuff, read books, tell stories, look at the sights around us. The only problem was the stroller.

I had assorted strollers, including a lightweight foldable one for public transit, but it was still hard getting on and off the bus with my stuff, his stuff, him and a stroller. The stroller made walking from the bus stop to school lots easier, though, and also the walk at the end of the day. So every morning I'd decide - to stroller or not.

One day, when he was three, I had extra stuff because it was the day before Christmas vacation so I had gifts for the teachers, too. So I asked Doran if he would please walk, since I just couldn't manage the stroller and he said he would. But he had been up since 6:00 a.m. and when as we got off the bus he said, "I'm too tired to walk." So I put him on my shoulders and walked on, with multiple bags hanging from both shoulders - my briefcase, his knapsack, my purse, the bag of gifts.

The walk from the bus to the day care included crossing a really busy street where cars are coming out of a tunnel. And it was December and slippery and I was wearing pumps and... I fell, halfway through the intersection. I managed to keep Doran on my shoulders, but I was down on one knee and my stuff went everywhere. Cars were zooming all over the place. It was downright terrifying.

Well one thing I've found about city living is when you're in sudden distress, five strangers stop to help you. I've twisted my ankle on the street, been in car accidents, locked a baby in a rental car, fainted on the subway while pregnant. It's always five strangers. It's part of NYC Orientation when we move here or are born here, I think. If you see someone having a problem, you count how many people are helping him/her. If there are fewer than five, jump in. If there are already five, you'll only get in the way. The only time the five-person rule is breached is if it's someone with special qualifications or skills, and then only momentarily. The person says, "Excuse me - I'm a doctor!" (or nurse, or cop, or paramedic or locksmith) and the last of the five moves on, replaced by the specialist.

So, as always, the traditional five strangers stopped to help. Three gathered my stuff from the street (including picking up the gifts that had fallen out of the bag and putting them back in), one crouched down to help me up, and the fifth reached out to Doran, to steady him on my shoulders as I rose.

Or at least he tried to. At which point Doran, in that 3.5-year-old indignant voice that carries like nothing in this world, yelled at him, "Don't touch me!!! I did not say that you could touch me!!!" I apologized to the poor man as well as I could whilst thanking all five and getting to the other side of the street with Doran and the stuff.

Once we were safely on the sidewalk we had this conversation:

Me (still mortified): Doran! Why did you yell at that poor man? He was just trying to help.
Doran (still indignant): But I did not say that he could touch me. He did not ask. He just tried to touch me.
Me: There wasn't time! There were cars everywhere. It was an emergency.
Doran: It was not my emergency. It was your emergency.

So, with that unsatisfactory (to both of us) exchange we made it to the preschool/daycare, both of us scowling. Doran's teacher asked what happened. He was still too mad to talk, and I retold the story. "Oh Doran!" his teacher said, in sympathy. "Do you need a hug?"

He scowled at her and shook his head.

"I need a hug," I said. She hugged me.



This is a popular story in my house. Doran has always done indignant well. Still does, although I think he has a better sense of when to be indignant now. And he has since learned to use contractions.

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From:ringthebells
Date:June 18th, 2010 03:59 am (UTC)
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I fell, halfway through the intersection. I managed to keep Doran on my shoulders, but I was down on one knee and my stuff went everywhere. Cars were zooming all over the place. It was downright terrifying.

Eep, I can imagine. It's great that your 5 strangers showed up to help you, though—yay for New Yorkers!

And I'm glad the teacher had a hug for you. :-)

Mostly I loved commuting with Doran. We did this from when he was almost 2 until he was 4.5 and those are great ages for traveling with a kid. We'd talk about all sorts of stuff, read books, tell stories, look at the sights around us.

That is super reassuring to me!

The only problem was the stroller.

Yeah, I'm already anticipating that.

I'll be riding a commuter train rather than a bus (with about a 10 minute walk on each end; at the home end of the trip I could optionally replace the 10 minute walk with a short bus ride). The advantage of the commuter train over a bus, stroller- and toddler-wise, is that once I'm inside there's lots of space; Callum will even be able to move around a bit. The disadvantage is that the cars are really high off the ground, which will make getting on/off tricky.

[User Picture]
From:hitchhiker
Date:June 19th, 2010 09:26 pm (UTC)
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that's a sweet story :)
From:rpics
Date:July 2nd, 2010 03:00 am (UTC)
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What about the "mean, crying hings" story? Another one of my favorite Doran commuting stories.
From:(Anonymous)
Date:August 31st, 2010 06:23 am (UTC)
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I love Doran's childhood stories. Josie says it reminds her of our little dog's attitude to strangers (until someone pats the big one). Unfortunately, I doubt Gilan will out grow the tendency as Doran did.
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From:candrawest
Date:August 31st, 2010 06:34 am (UTC)
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Gah, that was me, just hadn't signed in since I switched to google chrome and didn't realise it.
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From:mofic
Date:August 31st, 2010 11:09 pm (UTC)
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Thanks for clarifying, although I did figure it out :-).

How does your dog come to have such an Israeli name?
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From:candrawest
Date:September 1st, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
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I didn't know it was an Israeli name. My Gilan, as my other dog, Magrat, is named after a literary character.

Johnm Flannagan is an Australian writer who writes the Ranger's Apprentice series for young adults. Originally started to get his son into reading, the books are about a young boy named will, who (like the author's son) is shorter and slimmer than your typical action hero. In the first book, he is selected to join the Ranger Corps, which is basically his kingdom's special forces, they spy, they resolve disputes, they lead battle, they go on diplomatic missions. As a whole the corps is the king's right hand. So will is apprenticed to Halt, and meets Halt's previous apprentice, Gilan. While not in the books much, Gilan is a character that made quite an impression on Josie and me.

Magrat is named after one one of the witches in Terry Pratchett's Discworld series.
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