The kids only had two free days in NYC. The first was spent being snowed on in a slow moving bus before napping/shopping. The second proved to be a HUGE dilemma.
We took the kids to Central Park in the morning and that kept most of them happy for about an hour. Then we were hit with a huge conundrum. What do we do next?? I’m not sure whether you can tell from my blog but I’m very much a go-with-the-flow, seize the day, impulsive type. I hadn’t planned any activities and thought we’d just “see what happens”.
This approach to life is somewhat hard to implement when you have 5 children to appease. Child 1 wanted to spend the entire day in a comic book store or in the Capezio ballet store, child 2 wanted to go shopping or stay in Central Park, child 3 wanted to go shopping but ONLY for toys and other unnecessary items, Child 4 wanted to do something outside but didn’t know what and she definitely DID NOT want to stay in Central Park or go shopping and Child 5 said happily “I don’t mind what we do!!”. I really wish I could say agreeable Child 5 was one of mine but this was not the case.
After a heated debate about the pros and cons of any and every activity we could think to do in NYC and with no amenable outcome, the other grown ups and I decided to intervene. It would be necessary for fun to be forced upon this group of sad looking children.
“Right!! We are going to Coney Island!!” I declared. This was not met with enthusiasm by ANY member of the group (apart from Child 5 who was happy with anything), least of all Isabelle, who sobbed upon hearing she would need to catch a train. “I guarantee you will have fun. In fact, if there is no whinging between now and when we arrive I will buy you all either fairy floss or an ice cream. Furthermore anyone who can look me in the eye at the end of the day and say they had a crap time will be compensated with $50US”. Stellar parenting – me at my best!! I’m so fortunate that my two eldest won’t lie to obtain the $50 and that the youngest is blessed with my memory and would forget to act miserable to obtain $50. Fun making is what I do (when I’m not napping).
Coney Island is about a 1 hour train ride from NYC so the kids got to have their first experience of a New York Subway. Kylah was so beside herself with excitement when she saw a rat carrying a huge chunk of bread on the tracks, she forgot about the “rules” and stepped over the yellow lines to film the rat running around. Upon entering the train (or do I say Sub??) Isabelle immediately forgot that she was scared of trains and remembered that they have poles in them that she loves to dance around, much to my disgust!! “Isabelle!! Sit down! Those poles are covered in germs!” I would bark. Isabelle claimed that standing and dancing was necessary because if she sat down then she would get ‘train sick’. I don’t know where that kid comes up with her excuses…. I’m pretty sure all the pole dancing on the train to Coney Island is where Isabelle picked up the nasty bug she shared with all of us.
Coney Island was freezing, but beautiful. The amusement park looked straight out of a 1950’s movie set. Some of the rides looked like they had not been maintained or fixed up since 1950, but it had a great vibe!
We wandered on to the beautiful beach so the kids could put their finger in the Atlantic Ocean. We couldn’t take our shoes off because the beach itself is littered with shards of broken glass and bottles. Surely Coney Island council will have to sift all the glass out before summer comes? The dance mum that was with us is very knowledgeable and told the children all sorts of fascinating stories about how Coney Island is home to the Polar Bear Club. A club which is full of people, mad as hatters, who strip down to their bathers in the middle of winter and SWIM in the Atlantic Ocean. I really admire the bravery of the PBC members but a Polar Bear Plunge is definitely not on my to do list. I only enter the ocean under certain conditions. It needs to be hotter than 39 degrees Celsius (102.2 Fahrenheit), there needs to be no fresh water swimming option available (i.e. rock pool, lake), no chance of an air conditioned room within a 2km radius that I can access and no pool. Even if all these criteria are met I will still conduct a thorough risk assessment. Are there any signs of blue bottles? Is it shark feeding time? Am I in crocodile territory? Are there sea lice or jelly fish? Is there a rip? What is a rip? Are there flags and a hot lifeguard keeping me safe? Suffice to say in the past 6 years there have only been two times when all the stars aligned and I actually went swimming at the beach. It is very hard work being me.
Since my friend was imparting local facts and tips to the children I thought I’d share some of my local “knowledge”. “When you kids were little mummy used to watch A LOT of TV because I constantly had a baby hanging off my boob. One of the shows I watched was called Jersey Shore and it was filmed right here on THIS boardwalk!!” I told a bunch of blank, uninterested faces. “When you are older mummy is going to make you watch Jersey Shore because even though it is the trashiest TV show ever to be made, it will give you an insight in to how some boys speak about and manipulate girls.” Queue eye rolls. No one was interested in my “facts”.
They were however, very interested in practising their dance moves on the boardwalk in order to get the perfect shot of them dancing with the ocean in the background. This activity is a lot more fun than it sounds and took up a good hour of our time. The effortless photos that were swiftly uploaded to instagram gave off the illusion of a care free 2 second leap in the air, which was definitely not scrutinised and retaken a thousand times. Instagram is such a lie!
As they had not whinged on the train I kept my word and purchased fairy floss. The vendor looked very confused when I asked for 4 sticks of fairy floss. “That fluffy stuff” I said pointing to the bags. “Oh! You mean cotton candy!” he exclaimed in his drawn out American accent. Honestly, it’s like I’m speaking another language!
Mum took some of the kids on the Ferris Wheel, which looked like it could possibly be one screw away from coming undone, and I took Jazzy and Isabelle to the tea cup ride and merry-go-round. Thankfully, the screw did not fall out and mum and her two accompaniments returned safely to us.
We decided to get dinner at a restaurant called Applebee’s. It was delicious and so cheap!! Mum and I shared a main meal because American meals are huge and the kids all got kids meals. Kids meals in the US are about the same portion size as a main meal in Australia. The main meals in the US are called Entree’s, quite confusingly, and what we would call an entree they call an appetiser. Mum and I shared a meal which came with two different meats (we chose grilled chicken and salmon) and 4 sides (we chose garlic broccoli, mashed potato, carrots and something else…. can’t remember). All for $20!! I could have eaten a whole plate of garlic broccoli it was so good!
Whilst eating dinner we began chatting to a Coney Island local lady sitting at the next table. She thought our accents were cute, which surprised me as I find them to be horrid. “Did you ever watch Jersey Shore being filmed here?” I eagerly enquired. A confused expression briefly crossed her face before she said. “No. But that was filmed at Jersey Shore.” In that moment I felt like the worlds most unknowledgeable person. How did I not realise Jersey Shore was filmed in Jersey Shore? Why did I think the show was called Jersey Shore? These are questions that went spinning around my mind that will likely never be answered. There must be a similar amusement park / boardwalk style set-up in Jersey Shore.
The ride home wasn’t too bad. The kids were all happy and no one put in a claim for their $50 which made me happy. Even though it was a couple of degrees cooler on Coney Island (I could literally feel the snow being whipped off the ice in Antarctica straight on to my face) it was nice to get some fresh air and be in open spaces. It was also nice to escape all the annoying tourists that frequent NYC (such as myself) and get a feel for local areas.
I’m getting there with my catch ups!! Only about 3 more blogs till I can finally start on LA and Disneyland, which is where I am currently!!
Thanks for reading!