Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Straphanger in a stroller

In continuing our series on traveling with a baby, we explore the wonders of underground transportation known in New York as the "subway." On Saturday, Jennifer and I had to run a necessary errand in Times Square, which, for a New Yorker, is a place you want to visit if banging your head against a wall doesn't quite give you the headache you're desiring. To get there, we had to take the subway, and, thanks to modern parenting laws, we had to take Kyle along, too. Because of that, the chore suddenly gained a great amount of significance: it became Kyle's first subway ride.

It wasn't much of an errand for Jennifer and me. But for Kyle, the trip was absolutely terrifying, and not just because we were mugged three times. The little guy didn't understand why we were in the dark underground tunnel, and he seemed nervous about where we were going next. During the first several minutes on the platform, Kyle was frozen with an expression on his face that asked us what he had done wrong to deserve this. He even shook a little at the sound of an incoming train, apparently afraid that it would run him over or take him someplace hellish, like Times Square. We did everything we could think of to try to cheer him up, and even one of the muggers made silly faces in hopes of getting a smile, but nothing worked. Kyle just needed to ride the train to get past his initial reservations.

At first the train ride itself seemed to go just as well as the wait, with Kyle looking at his mom, questioning why he had trusted her for so long.

But soon his mood seemed to change as he came to realize that the train wasn't going to hurt him, and that the rats will leave you alone if you leave them alone (unless they're rabid). Kyle was smiling again, he was trusting us again, and he was no longer afraid of the monster known as the subway. He even started to explore his surroundings, but in doing so he ended up breaking one of the cardinal rules of New York subway travel: he made eye contact with the other passengers. So now they were the ones feeling uncomfortable. I suppose Kyle eventually will learn the proper subway etiquette. While this was his first subway ride, it certainly won't be his last.

Next week on our "Traveling with a Baby" Series: Kyle goes horseback riding!

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