Hunting in the City


Taking toddlers into the city requires strength, skill, and agility – especially when subways and PATH trains are involved. The biggest problem(s) are the steps into and out of the underground with a double stroller. (As a side note: anyone with compromised or limited mobility is SCREWED in New York.)

Aside from the cumbersome crap I wielded when I transported babies around the Biggest Apple, I was also concerned that the activity on the streets would be distracting, overwhelming, and intimidating to the little ones. But I love New York. I want my  kids to grow up comfortable in their environment.

Alas, the scavenger hunt. (And the ditching of the stroller – more on that in a later post.)

Before we buy our metro cards, we huddle and brainstorm the day’s scavenger hunt. I draw the pictures. As you can see from the image above, they’re easy items to spot. Taxi. A guitar. Exciting finds for the kids. I try to include something for me – in this case, a cheap pair of sunglasses. When we find it, I win too.

The kids hold onto the list; I put it in their pockets. When they start to crank up, I stop wherever we are and consult with or otherwise revisit the hunt – constantly coming back to the list. (Which reminds me of a tip I got when I first started teaching – if conversations start to spiral or seem out of control, simply return to the text.)

We sometimes add to the list. We circle things. We assign points, albeit arbitrarily. The hunt is our way to make a sometimes scary and unpredictable place feel a little less surprising and be just a little more in control. And for a mom with toddler boys, that’s everything.

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Mel Kozakiewicz a professor, editor, writer, and mother of two.

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