There are some things you should avoid in New York. The subway at peak hour is one of them. Doesn’t require a genius to know that taking two kids on at that time is not to be advised. But that’s what I did.
Not intentionally, mind you. It was because we got lost in the Museum of Natural History. The thing is a maze. I had a map. Well actually Chaos had the map. She hasn’t mastered the art of navigation just yet, nor the ability to keep a sheet of paper in one piece. So the map wasn’t much good to us by the time we got lost somewhere in the origins of Africa exhibit. Or whatever it was. By the time I found another map, it was 4.10pm. By the time we got to the train station it was 4.45. Not good.
The trip down had been a breeze. Jump on a fairly empty train. Hurricane and Chaos perfectly behaved. Jump off. Walk to the museum. The return train pulled in and was packed full. Sardines in a can. I had two small people, my bag and a stroller that I had folded up. Debacle.
Normally New Yorkers are pretty good at giving up their seats for families, however peak hour has more of a survival of the fittest feel to it. A nice young guy spotted us and gave up his seat for Hurricane. No one else moved. Everyone looked away. No eye contact. I stood there, Chaos in one arm, stroller in the other, bag on back. Then Chaos did something unexpected. She grabbed hold of the bar above my head and started to do chin-ups.
Chin-ups. It was impossible not to laugh. A toddler in a puffy jacket doing chin-ups in a packed train full of very serious, very silent New Yorkers. And the best part? She was counting them out. All the way to 12. Obviously she’s not strong enough to do 12 chin-ups unassisted, she was sitting on my arm. In other words, she was cheating. But man it was funny. Though it didn’t get us a seat. These rush hour travelers have hearts of stone I tell you.
Peak hour trains are slow. By the time it started to empty out and we were able to get seats the little people were starting to fray and required physical separation. So they both just attacked me for the last 10 minutes. They were tired and I could sense the hanger kicking in. I then made a fatal decision. Get off and catch the bus home, instead of drag them up the hill on foot. The train at peak was bad, the bus was a whole different story.
There was one spare seat when we got on, but Hurricane didn’t want it as he “didn’t want to sit next to that woman”. Chaos agreed. So we all stood. Then the bus filled up and it turned into a sauna. The woman that neither of the little people wanted to sit next to, but whom we were trapped next to anyway, loudly remarked about 3 stops later that it was unsafe for children to be standing so she would give up her seat, clearly hoping someone else would say ‘no no, here they can have mine’. But no one did. So after an awkward pause she gave up her seat and Hurricane gladly clambered in, with Chaos following his lead.
Unfortunately Chaos then headbutted her brother in the face. And the howling began. Both of them. One because his face hurt, the other because she was upset that he was upset. A man behind us said: “I feel the same way”. We laughed. Because there isn’t much else you can do.
It took 75 minutes, but we got home. Mission accomplished. More or less.