Family fun Memories & Reflections The Act of Travel

Seeing Places Through My Child’s Eyes: An Unexpected Perk of Parenting

Do three year olds ever stop talking?

From the time we pick Skyler up at 5 to the time he finally passes out after bedtime, he never shuts up.

I had fun at school today. Can I have some two mints please? The seatbelt is too tight. TOO TIGHT!!!!
Look at the doggie. It’s a doggie! We go to the playground now? Now? I went to Julian’s birthday party.
Look at that red truck. It’s red. Look! It’s red! Look at that red truck! LOOK AT THE RED TRUCK!
Why you not going, Mama? Why you not going? Go faster! That’s a school bus!
*Sings the ABCs*
What is that? There’s a lot of traffic. Look that’s the donut shop.
This is the highway. We go to Aunt Charwit’s house. Dada, I want to go to the car wash again.
I want to play with the blue tablet. Please? I want it now!
Babbles incoherently while playing with trucks and blocks
What is this? Oh, I see! I’m going to pee outside. Look at all those flowers! Mama, there’s a wasp by your head!
Look, an airplane! AN AIRPLANE! THAT AIRPLANE IS BLUE, MAMA!
I don’t see any lawn mowers.
I cant know how to do open this box. Mama, open this box for me please. What is this? I wuv you.
*Screaming randomly at the cats*
I feed the cats now. Yes, now. I WANT TO! cries for 16 seconds
You have a booboo on your foot? Why you have a booboo? I want to rub your booboo off.
Mama, I want to snuggle on the couch. MY SHOE!!!!
I want milk….. I dont want this. Can I have some olives?
*Sings Baby shark*
What’s this? Huh?! That white and black thing is my camera and you watch me on it.
I want to play the drums. We go to someone’s house who has drums? Now? On Friday?
On Friday, I go to my office at Giggy and Baba’s. Baba jumps on the trampoline. No, I jump on the trampolines. Baba did not jump on the trampoline.
Dexter, go in the garage! Cosmo, get DOWN! I want to spray the cats.
What is this? I want it. I want to spray the plants. I need to pee. I NEED TO PEE!
Mama, why you have booboo on your hand? We dont know where the yellow car is. We lost it. We need to find it.
*Random squealing for no good reason*
That’s MY pink pillow! What is that thing there? No, I do not want to. I want to play stamps.
Mama, you use the big girl potty? The potty water is blue, Dada! The water is blue! COME LOOK THE WATER IS BLUE!
I want more strawberries, please. I need a knife to cut this strawberry.
Dada! Come wipe my butt!

And that’s just during the 27 minute period after we pick him up.

I am often reminded of the line from Hamilton — just replace the words “write” and “fight” with “talk”:
Why do you write like you’re running out of time?
Write day and night like you’re running out of time?
Every day you fight, like you’re running out of time
Keep on fighting, in the meantime- (Non-stop!)

As annoying as our small child’s incessant chatter can be, I also find it to be charming, and have actually learned a thing or two from him.  And I was struck by a one of these small lessons this past weekend, when I took a super fast trip to NYC with a friend to see three musicals in two days.

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A fun display of playbills in the Times Square area; Funny Girl was one of the shows we saw!
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One of countless cute tiny parks that live in between streets; just a little place to sit down, enjoy a snack, take the load off, and enjoy the sunshine.
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A cheesy piece of decor or a cutesy reminder of the promise of opportunity and liberty that our country once stood for?
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Bryant Park

Everything around me seemed interesting.

Due to the short duration of our trip and its main purpose (see musicals), we didn’t make many other plans. Sure, we enjoyed lunch in Bryant Park with one of my friend’s coworkers, and had brunch with another friend. And I insisted on taking her to Don’t Tell Mama after our last show Saturday night (leading to one of my worst hangovers in recent memory).

But for the most part, we weren’t doing anything extraordinarily interesting. When we weren’t eating or enjoying musical performances, we just walked around. We wandered aimlessly around Central Park and braved the crowds of Times Square. We people watched at Tavern on the Green and on random park benches along our path. And the whole time, as we passed under scaffolding, dodged cars on crosswalks, and gagged at some of the street smells, I kept thinking one thing: Skyler would LOVE this.

There is always something to appreciate, something interesting to take a photo of, something unexpected to consider, something worth noticing.

He is in a constant state of awe and wonder, curious about everything he sees, wanting to understand the world around him. He notices things I normally just overlook. He makes me think about things I would otherwise ignore. And now, even when I travel solo without his noisy presence, his voice is in my head, making me pay more attention to the world around me.

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An interesting building
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A statue of Dante in a tiny park

His voice was so clear in my brain: pay attention, Mama.

I imagined him riding around town in his little stroller, taking in all of the sights and the sounds, commenting on every single thing. That building is so tall! Look at that bus! LOOK AT THAT BUS MAMA! Wow, it’s colorful. It’s beautiful. Why are there so many people? I want pizza. That’s a big TV. What is that? Oh, so many birds! There’s a bird by your head! I want to jump on these rocks. What’s that? What’s this? I want to go there. Look, a doggie! ANOTHER DOGGIE! That lady has THREE DOGGIES! What is that? I want to ride it. Mama, look a horse! I go over there now. I want a cookie. What is that noise? Whoa, look at that building, it is so beautiful.

Walking around a city I’ve visited countless times and spending time in an area that I just recently hung out in might usually mean that I’m not as engaged during the down time, waiting to be entertained during meals or shows. But this time (and during my December trip), I thoroughly enjoyed all of our unscheduled time. There is always something to appreciate, something interesting to take a photo of, something unexpected to consider, something worth noticing.

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Random street art
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Billionaire’s Row, as seen from Central Park
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Even though Skyler wasn’t physically with me, I heard him in my head reminding me of just how amazing this city is — heck, how amazing this WORLD is — and to look around at all of the things that humans have created. Those buildings, the buses, the giant TVs in Times Square, the rambling sidewalks of Central Park, the rickshaw bikes and hot dog carts and sewer system. It’s all rather amazing. I’m so glad that I now have a regular — if loud — reminder to stay present and in awe of my surroundings.

This power of his has become one of my favorite things about traveling with him and a totally unexpected perk of parenthood.

Even the mundane can be interesting or funny or satisfying. I marvel at the fact that this tiny human has been able to recontextualize even the most tedious or boring situation for me. This child, who does not know shit about shit and who has only been on this planet for a few short years, has reframed how I see EVERYTHING. And if that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is.

Look around, look around
At how lucky we are to be alive right now
Look around, look around
At how lucky we are to be alive right now
History is happening in Manhattan
And we just happen to be in the greatest city in the world
In the greatest city in the world!

– “The Schuyler Sisters”, Hamilton

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