Family / Kids / Parenting

Day trips are better with Chinese food

We did not plan to do much this past long weekend. There were no play dates on the books or trips organized. I had managed to sign up for an event at our middle school to celebrate Martin Luther King. That event would account for two hours of our 72-hour weekend.

I think a lot about what we could do with our kids. We are spoiled for choice living in family-friendly suburbia just outside of New York City. And yet, by the time the weekend comes, after all the schlepping from one activity to the next, after running one errand and another and then another still, after all the arguments about what’s for dinner and bath time and homework that seem to be set on some sort of torture-Mom-loop, I want to curl up in my bed and read a book. All day. And never come out.

Gabriella is the doer in the family. Thankfully one of us is. I would have been guilt-ridden but happy to allow the boys to play video games, watch television and roughhouse until someone got hurt all weekend long just to have time to myself. On Sunday, Gabriella decided that we would Thaton DO something as a family.

“They can not be on screens all day this weekend!” she announced. And, I whole-heartedly agreed. I just needed Gabriella to take the wheel, take it from my hands. ‘Cause I can’t do this on my own. I’m hoping I don’t need to post more of the song for you to get the reference.

On Sunday, we were in the mini-van on our way to Queens to visit The New York Hall of Science. What did the boys do in the car? They watched a movie. What did we do when we got to the museum? We watched a movie. Granted, it was a 3-D movie about the migration of the monarch butterfly, but it was a movie nonetheless. But hey, they watched different screens in different sizes and that should count for something in the book of Good Parenting, right? And hey, we did learn a lot. Caterpillars eat a lot of milkweed leaves.


After we returned our 3-D glasses, we were ready to face the real world, the real world of science. We explored light and the ocean and sound and space. There were mirrors and bubbles and bugs and optical illusions. And the grand finale was the robot workshop where the boys were able to make their own robots.

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There were moments during our adventure when I tried too hard to encourage participation, when I was perhaps a bit too insistent that they read about each exhibit, when I wondered if they were getting the most out of each station or missing out on something fascinating because it didn’t capture their interest within two seconds. I had to take a breath and remind myself that we were there to have fun.

“They don’t have to do everything here and now,” Gabriella said. “We’ll come back another time. And each time, they’ll get something more out of it.” I remembered how often my family would go to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. There were endless sights to see, but all we ever wanted to do was watch the chicks hatch. Somehow, we became productive members of society in spite of our refusal to take a tour of the coal-mine shaft.

We promised the boys a trip to the gift store after a day well spent. They each picked out a souvenir, and we got into the min-van to watch the end of the movie.

“How about we go for Chinese food?” Gabriella asked me. Hot and sour soup in Flushing would be my reward. It was then I decided that the day, on balance, was a success.



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  1. Thanks for the suggestion! The museum sounds awesome.
    BTW, how are we defining “productive member of society?”

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