Despite the occasional blogging-friendly pratfall, I actually do consider myself a fairly competent adult. I can make it through most days without serious injury, I juggle and meet multiple deadlines on a regular basis and I know how to open and close my stupid asshole stroller.
But there's something about New York that turns in me into a bumbling, fumbling idiot. I get on the wrong train! I trip on the sidewalk! I compulsively over-tip cab drivers! I walk around with the tags from my inside-out underwear sticking out of my pants all day!
This week's trip was no exception.
Noah and I left DC on Sunday, smack dab in the middle of prime napping time. Even with Union Station's priority boarding for families with young children, we barely found seats in time. I had our suitcase on my back, the diaper bag slung over my torso and I was dragging the stroller by the shoulder strap behind me while I desperately tried to hang onto Noah by his armpits while he howled and the entire world and several Amtrak employees judged but did not help. I shoved him on the train first -- by God, ONE of us would make it to New York -- and begged and panted to him to please please please follow Mama like a big boy.
When we found seats at last Noah was utterly delighted by the whole choo-choo-ness of the experience. For about a minute, which is how long it took him to realize that choo-choos actually involved a lot of SITTING instead of...I don't know...strippers and Cristal.
He screamed. SCREAMED. I heard the nerves of every fellow passenger in the car grate and felt their burning hot hatred as I fumbled to boot up my laptop while frantically begging Noah to hush and promising my endless iTunes supply of Blue's Clues episodes if he would just STFU.
It turned out that only one episode of Blue's Clues had downloaded correctly, for some reason. A 50-minute special called Meet Blue's Baby Brother. Which features 1) Joe and not Steve, 2) live-action puppets, 3) PUP PUP PUP PUP PUP PUP PUPPYVILLLLLLE!
We met Blue's baby brother a lot this week. Noah was completely pacified as long as it on, although his headphones meant he had no real awareness of the volume of his voice (not that that's a real great skill without headphones, durrrr) and would shout ACLOOOOOO!out of nowhere at the top of his lungs. I hate Blue and I hate her baby brother and I hate Puppyville and Alphabet City and all things bright and primary-colored.
He did not nap, obviously. He fell asleep in his stroller in Manhattan, while we waited in line for a taxi.
The whole real point of our trip was to spend time with my nephew Nicky, who is 19 months old. (Nicky's big sister, by the way, is 19 years old, and my brother-in-law is telling that to as many people as he can for the next two days before Nicky turns 20 months old.) So of course the boys ignored each other most of the time. But whatever. PRESHUS FAMILY MEMORIES. LET ME MAKE THEM FOR YOU.
Since Manhattan apartments are a little on the -- ahem -- snug side, Noah and I stayed in a hotel around the corner, where Noah continued to not sleep. He finally conked out around midnight, but I woke up pretty much every time he moved because I was convinced he would fall off the bed and kept diving for his twitching foot, thinking it was his whole body going off the side, even though he was sprawled out in the dead center of the bed while I clung to about six inches of space off to the side.
I fell out of the goddamn bed around 4 am when I thought a pillow on the floor was my child's lifeless body.
Monday is kind of a blur -- I kept getting my foot tangled up in the diaper bag strap. Noah screamed his head off in a taxi so much that I over-tipped the driver even more than usual. I spilled coffee creamer all over Isabel and could never seem to get the stroller folded and unfolded or through doors and I spent 10 minutes convinced I'd lost a Sephora bag that was sitting two inches from my own ass. Isabel wanted to talk about all sorts of exciting Smackdown-related things and I think I just sat there with my tongue hanging out while Noah played with a pile of sugar.
Then it was back to my sister's place, where Noah napped in the stroller again while I tried to convince her that she should TOTALLY bring her toddler to DC for Christmas. TOTALLY. The train is NOTHING. It's EASY. We're having a GREAT TOTALLY EASY NOTHING TIME.
(I lie! I lie to my FAMILY!)
The boys finally started to acknowledge each other's presence that night, while they ran up and down the hallway outside the apartment. Nicky was not wearing pants. Noah was only in a diaper, which fell off at some point because I bought the large box of size fours, so dammit, that child will wear size fours.
They started chattering to each other -- Noah would hold Nicky's hand and shout GOOOOO! and point in the direction he wanted Nicky to run in, and then they would both run and shriek and laugh and hug and my sister and I laughed hysterically and tears welled up because my GOD, these BOYS. There's an 18-year age difference between my sister and I and more family dysfunction than you can toss a diaper at and yet here we are, with our boys, closer than ever and planning family vacations and I don't think it's a place either of us ever expected to be, but hot damn, it feels great.
My brother-in-law had the camcorder on at the exact moment my sister told us the boys had locked us out of the apartment.
"Huh," we both said.
"Seriously, you guys," my sister repeated, "They locked us out of the apartment."
"Huh," I said again.
I suddenly realized my sister was crying.
"Wait..." I said. The light bulb was starting to flicker a little bit.
My sister and her husband bolted down the stairwell to get a key from the doorman, while it finally occurred to me that yes, we were locked out and the boys were locked IN.
I sat down outside the door and listened -- I heard the sound of books being yanked off a shelf and I heard the sound of toddler footsteps change pitch as they went from hardwood to linoleum and back again.
I knocked. "Let me in, babies! Don't touch the outlets! Stay out of the kitchen! Don't open the TV cabinet! BUT OPEN THE DOOR TO THE NICE STRANGER IN THE HALLWAY."
I at least got Noah to knock back a couple times before my brother-in-law came careening around the corner with a key. My sister was a wreck; Noah's diaper was falling off again. I was like, "Eh. Are there stairs in there? There are no stairs in there. Amateurs!"
My brother-in-law physically put Noah and I on the train the next day and we met Blue's Baby Brother four more times, because it was the only thing in the world Noah wanted to watch. Other than a stupid, stupid, STUPID trip to the dining car on the other side of the train that nearly resulted in Noah getting run over by a suitcase and my probably getting arrested for all the armpit holding/dragging/threats-of-leashing I did, the ride home was fine. Jason met us and Noah fell asleep in the elevator in the parking garage.
The end, MY GOD, the end.
The only preshus family memory I remembered to document. Huh. I wonder how that happened.