One of the hardest things about having multiple children is maintaining a fair balance of activities to suit everyone. As most can attest, it's rare that everyone in a family shares the same exact interests. Kids are different, personalities vary, and naturally hobbies and intrigue do too. Making sure you don't overlook or neglect individual preferences, it's harder than I expected.
The biggest problem we have is that two of our boys, Arlo and Rex, are most active with common interests being skate boarding and surfing which we are constantly making efforts to get them to to ensure they flourish in areas they love. It means altering our schedule to make it to competitions and play dates, after school sessions and weekend things too. Where Leon often times is merely along for the ride. Easy going as he is, I started to realize recently how much we take for granted his indifference, in that he isn't the kind of kid who is apt to protest or complain, even when it means spending time doing things he doesn't find all that appealing.
Hence, the trip to New York earlier this month. Just the two of us. A birthday present decided on after he requested a ride on an airplane as his big gift, and we saw an opportunity to show him around a Big City, with my best friend, her wife, and other kin we know on the East Coast to do all the things he loves. Sight seeing, museums, restaurants, gift shops, boat rides and a fair share of the tourist attractions he's always drawn to. Four days fully dedicated to Leon. And only Leon. Seeing the things that interest him, without three brothers to mix or contend with. Which was amazing. And reminded me of how easy it is to forget just how important one on one time is, especially around this age, when there is always so much going on and it's all too easy to forsake. I think, on a whole, the trip reawakened those sentiments in me I had pushed aside due to stress and time constraints and all the other things in life that tend to eat away our better good if in fact we let it.
As for the sight seeing, we had a blast. Largely in thanks to the friends who came out to ensure we saw incredible things, tasted incredible foods, visited incredible places. And if I can be sure of one thing, it's that New York City loves Leon something fierce. Everywhere we went: gay men, black men, gift shop ladies working registers, Uber drivers, gray haired grannies in the park, they all stopped whatever it was they were doing to engage him. Everywhere we went he was handed small gifts, unique tokens, complements and so, many, genuine smiles. Proving something we've always known, that whatever light he carries inside of him shines through wherever he is. People respond to kindness. And Leon, he's got more of it than most. Apparent, it seems, even in a city that moves a whole lot faster than the rest.
The whole experience I am thankful for. That we did it. Together. A trip I hope he'll remember forever. One that took him to the rooftop at The Met at sunset to toast that bright city skyline, kept him up late watching Harry Potter movies, and woke to brown bagged bagels for breakfast in the "Liberace Room," and photos booths in fancy hotels downtown, a big boat that drove him around the East River to marvel at the Statue of Liberty (a sight so pretty I couldn't help but get tear eyed during the string of patriotic songs they played while we were parked) and museum runs, candy shops, cab rides, and a park picnic with a school full of kids he didn't know but befriended anyway. A first taste of a bustling scene so different from the slow roll of this surf town we're in now. A good time. All attention paid to just him. And all the things that make him the happiest.
What we saw / did / ate
Lunch at Breslin in The Ace
Natural History Museum
Drinks on the roof of the Met
Dinner at Mediterranean
911 Memorial Museum
Statue of Liberty / East River Boat Cruise
Lunch at Spitzers
Maria Berrio exhibit at Praxis
Dinner on the river on the cutest 1930's sailboat called "Pilot"