Liam and I are at our best on vacation. He's happy, excited and cooperative. Our recent cross-country roadtrip notwithstanding since he was all too aware that we were peeling him from his very existence. Replace "happy, excited and cooperative" with "whiny, contrary and stubborn" and you have our 2010 vacation in a nutshell. But, in general, both of us crave a change of scenery............Liam has always been energized by the new and different. As a baby, he would fuss incessantly until I walked him, face out, from room to room so he could seek out new material. "Playing" with him was a losing battle unless we went to someone else's house ("don't insult me with that teething ring! You showed that to me yesterday!").
On this vacation day, the two of us take the train to Boston. Taking the train into the city gives me a shot in the arm. It feels so urban, so communal........there's no public transportation in the woods. We see all kinds of people, of all colors, speaking all kinds of languages, young and old, well-dressed and sloppy, disabled and sprinting, happy, sad, angry, drunk, and happy......and more happy.
I give Liam some change to put in a homeless man's cup and it makes his day.........Liam's, not the homeless man's. Although, the man was lovingly grateful.
On the train, we look out the window and listen to our iPods and finally make our way to the Cafe Car for a snack. Liam is insistent that he make the choices and buy the items all by himself. I try to come in and look at the menu but he shoos me out. "Go sit down! Go sit DOWN!" he says. I think it's adorable how he's experimenting with independence until he returns with two shiny red cans of Coke. He shrugs and says "It's all they had."
Note to self: Loosen up on the Coke thing. If you want Liam to want something with all his might and lie, cheat and steal to get it........simply forbid it. *And we'll talk later about what a hypocrite I am.
Liam's time away from the city has been brief but impactful. He's wary in the train station. Holds my hand firmly (which was babyish the day before) and keeps admonishing me for opening my purse. He stays by my side the entire day - no breakaways where I scream and grab him by the hood. And he's nervous about missing the train home even suggesting we return to the train station early so we have plenty of time. Is this growing maturity or an emerging anxiety? Either way, it's nice. It's like the kind of parenting you see in TV commercials (but not the ones for cleaning products).
We make our way to Boston's North End and just become a part of the neighborhood for a few hours. We wander the streets, listening to people scream in Italian (they really do that!), stopping along the way when we see something interesting (or yummy.)
Speaking of yummy, we stop in Lulu's Bakeshop (to load up on Coke bottle gummies - it's the Coke thing again) and we make an exciting discovery..........are you aware that Cadbury makes a candy bar called a "Curly Wurly" which is a braid of caramel covered in milk chocolate? The "stretchiest, bendiest" candy bar in the world?! Does this sound familiar?! It's a MARATHON bar, people!!!!! If you're not jumping up and down right now, you were probably born in the 80's (the Marathon bar was discontinued in 1981 despite robust sales at my local Snyder's Drug store). We buy one for Mike. Who jumps up and down when he opens it and sees the chocolate covered braid.
Although the North End is nothing like the ghetto, I sing Elvis Presley's "In the Ghetto" all day. Like even the ghetto is a refreshing change when you live in the woods.
Here's a peek at our day:
We do research to find real Neapolitan pizza like our beloved Punch Pizza in Minneapolis. We find it at Antico Forno - Liam gives it a 5. The sauce is juicy but the cheese is a little Shakey's-ish. I still choke down an entire pizza by myself.
We find pocket playgrounds all over the neighborhood - dropped in between buildings like they exist in secret. We stop to play hopscotch and learn about graffiti.
Liam wants to know the origins of gelato and how it's made and why they don't call it soft serve. But the gelato-counter-girl doesn't know. Welcome to my world, gelato-counter-girl.
We visit the Old North Church of "One if by land, two if by sea" fame. Liam prefers the gift shop and begs for a giant pencil. Haven't we all begged for a giant pencil? And, just so you know, Paul Revere's statue horse is anatomically correct. Why I was compelled to check, I have no idea.
We tour Paul Revere's house in about 62 seconds flat. Which is fine with me. Did you know that he had 16 children? Keep it in your pants, dude.