Several months back, while I was driving around town, I ran into a high school friend of mine. He lives in NYC, but frequently visits our hometown. He was with his daughter, who is just slightly younger than The Narrator. We did the typical “We should meet up soon” exchange, even batting around the idea of taking the kids to the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. We parted ways, and as much as I liked the idea, I figured it wouldn’t amount to much more than the usual pleasantries that people exchange with old friends on chance meetings.
Just a few weeks ago, I got a text message from him while I was working a security detail. “I have my daughter next weekend. Museum?”
Anyone with children knows that planning anything less than two weeks ahead of time is considered ‘short notice,’ but I decided to take a crack at it. Saturday is my only day off, so we planned for that.
At the last minute, my wife decided to stay home with Mini-me, but encouraged me to take The Narrator.
It promised to be an interesting trip, and it was. Very much so.
First off, we live far enough outside the city that driving would have been silly. I opted for the train, which was excitement #1 for my son. He’d never been on a train other than the short little jogs of the wintertime ‘Polar Express’ trips we’ve done. Now he gets a real ride with real scenery….and ultimately real boredom.
When he heard we were going to Grand Central Station, that was excitement #2. He’d heard about it and seen it on TV, and was thrilled at getting to go.
…we never made it that far. At the last stop, Harlem and 125th street…our train broke down. I called my friend, who said he’d drive down and pick up up there. So we hung around a train station for a half an hour.
Eventually, we made it to the museum, and the usually shy Narrator hit it off right away with my friend’s daughter.
Talk about sensory overload. Between the train, the handful of blocks we walked to the museum through the heart of Manhattan, and everything the museum itself had to offer- the poor kid very nearly went insane.
There we were. Two dads with their kids, wandering around what has to be one of the greatest museums….anywhere. We didn’t even come close to seeing everything either. We spent a handful of hours there before my friend’s daughter began to sag. He took the exhausted little girl out to the main entrance while I rushed The Narrator through the dinosaurs and gift shop. By that time, even he was getting winded, so I promised him we would go back, and I meant it, I’m already planning a trip back with the rest of the family when the weather warms up a little.
The kids really enjoyed themselves- as did I. Some of what they have to see there is completely astounding. Most amazing to me was the life-sized blue whale they have in the ocean live exhibit. It was so massive that I couldn’t stop looking at it.
I don’t have many pictures, because most of the time I was juggling coats, holding hands, or dealing with various drinks and snacks.
My son got his wish though, on the way out, we were dropped off at Grand Central to depart from there….and we missed our train by seconds. They were closing the door as we hit the platform. So, we bummed about the station for a while until the next train out, which was just a few minutes later.
On the way home, everything caught up to him, and he passed out on the train ride. I don’t mean he was asleep either…he was completely unconscious.
It turned into a very long day, but was so totally worth it. The train ride was fun, the city is- as always- transfixing, and the museum was absolutely amazing.
If you’re in a position to get to the American Museum of Natural History, go. Especially if you’ve never been there. If you HAVE been there, go again, because odds are…you missed some of it. There’s no way you can see it all in one day. I looked at their site the other day and counted the exhibits and exhibitions that we missed….and they totaled more than we HAD seen.
Plus I got to do something with another adult that didn’t involve interviews or speeding tickets….which was a nice break.