Thursday 19 April 2012

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Times Square - My Kids Version

Yesterday came the sad news of the passing of Dick Clark. As fate would have it, today's post is about visiting Times Square with our kids. I never went to Times Square for New Years Eve, but I watched it countless times on TV, and even though we might have flicked around the channels a little, when it came time for the final countdown, we always put our TV on Dick Clark's Rockin' New Years Eve. My kids associate New Years Eve with Ryan Seacrest (or in their words, "That guy from American Idol") so for them it will (hopefully) be quite a while before they lose their New Years Eve host, but for me, the countdown will never be the same again.

There's some questions that I really hate getting from my kids.
"Why is the sky blue?"
"Go ask your Mother."
"Where do babies come from?"
"Seriously...go ask your mother."
"Why do the Dolphins never make the playoffs?"
"Nobody knows. It's a great mystery of life."
My most hated question however, is "So what do we do here?"

When we were in New York, we decided that one of our first stops would be to show our kids Times Square. I'm not sure exactly what we were planning on showing them, but Times Square just seems like one of those places that you have to stop if you're in New York, and besides it was only a half block walk from our hotel to the very crux of the square. After getting everything settled in our hotel, we headed off to go and see what Times Square had to show us. As we walked, I extolled some of the more interesting virtues of Times Square. "It's the crossroads of the world! The Great White Way! One of the busiest pedestrian intersections anywhere and the most visited tourist attraction in the world!"

I thought I'd done a pretty good job of selling Times Square as an exciting place to stop, so I marched my kids up to the corner of 46th and Broadway and found a little space for them to pause and take it all in. There's a lot to see in Times Square, so I began to think about where I could get some food for everybody if we stayed here longer than I had planned, when 'it' came from the boy (it's always the boy)...
"So, what do we do here?"
"What do you mean, what do we do here? You're in Times Square! Look around!"
"Where's Times Square?"
"You're in the middle of it! All of this is Times Square! Everything!"
"So...Times Square is shops?"
"And all the billboards! And the lights! And all the world famous buildings!"
"Oh...OK. How long are we going to be here?"

Now I've played this game with my kids before, and I'm pretty good at sticking to my guns when it's something that I feel is really important, but as I looked around I had to admit that the boy had a point. From my perspective, Times Square is a famous place that I have hundreds of reference points for from different events in my life. To my kids, it was a lot of tall buildings and a whole lot of people. I know that later in life they'll be happy to be able to say "I've been there", but for now there really didn't seem to be much to capture their attention. We decided to head back to our hotel, making the obligatory stops at Disney and Toys R Us along the way, and mark Times Square off as a "been there, done that" item.

We settled in for a little rest in our hotel room before heading out to see Spider-man: Turn off the Dark that night. About the time that I managed to steal enough blanket away from Lori to finally get comfortable on the bed, I heard my daughter from over near the window say "Hey! You can see Times Square from here!".

While I mumbled my delight, her sister went over to the window and exclaimed "Oh wow! There it is! Dad, come and take a picture of Times Square!"

Not sure why our aerial side view of a small portion of Times Square was more interesting to my children than standing in the very middle of all the action as they had been only a few moments ago, I went over to the window to take a look...and there it was. My kids point of reference for Times Square, and the thing that will trigger their "I've been there" stories...

I leaned out and did my best to take some pictures of "Times Square" for my kids. As I showed them the results, one of my daughters asked "Isn't it cool Dad?" Those are the kinds of questions I can handle. They don't even have to go ask their mother.