“What must she be thinking?” I wonder, as I watch May’s sparkly eyes take in the frenetic pace of New York City. The cacophony of sounds emanating from the many diverse cultures that hurry along crowded streets, creating a flurry of endless activity must seem overwhelming to such a small child. Or is it I, who is overwhelmed by what was once my home, and who tightly grasps the hand of this precious child in fear of losing her in the vast sea of feet, hands and bodies? All of a sudden, for the first time in my life, I see New York City in a different light. After many years, I see the city where I grew up, was educated and worked, through the eyes of a child and I too am filled with awe.
After our sojourn to the Bronx Zoo, May was hungry and tired. So, we thought, what better place to eat than Chinatown? May was adept with chopsticks and we were guaranteed that she, a picky eater, would love the cuisine since her favorite things to eat are fried wontons and sesame noodles. Besides, the car ride through midtown Manhattan on the way would give May a bit more of an idea about the magnitude of New York City without its being too taxing on her already tired, little, body.
Chinatown is truly a unique experience, one of which I never tire. Shops spill over onto sidewalks with their many colorful wares, each holding special appeal to both grown-ups and children alike. May’s head was spinning with excitement as she took in the mechanical dog chasing after a ball, wind-up fish swimming in pools of water, brightly adorned fans, silk pajamas, wooden umbrellas, toy trucks and the innumerable objects that were being “hawked” by the proprietors of the various shops. Look first, we advised, then she could her get one special toy after dinner.
The Peking Duck House measured up to all expectations. Our waiter, aware of May’s disappointment over the restaurant’s lack of chopsticks for children, created a special pair with the aid of rubber bands, much to May’s delight. We all watched in amazement as May adeptly used her chopsticks to slurp up each long strand of noodle, never once lifting her head from her task. Meal finished, toy bought, we headed for home gaily singing “Do, Re, Mi,” from the Sound of Music.
The next morning led us to brunch at the New York Athletic Club where May could once again enjoy the waffles that left a lasting impression from her last visit, and where grandpa could once again show his granddaughter off to his friends. Brunch completed, we set off for the Metropolitan Museum of Art for a bit of culture.
Immediately upon entering the museum, we found ourselves amid thousands of people who shared the same thought about how to pass a rainy Sunday afternoon. With May securely held in our arms, we bypassed the long lines of people waiting to purchase tickets and made our way into the ancient Egypt wing of the museum. Membership does have its privileges!
Richard and I had often been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art when our daughters were little and we looked forward to sharing the experience with May. Not wanting to bear the responsibility of leaving their haunting images on May’s mind, we rushed her through the many sarcophagi and their mummified remains en route to The Temple of Dendur, a less crowded and open area where May could stretch her little body. I can’t say whether or not the temple made any impression on May, but it gave the rest of us a bit of a respite from the crowds.
Our continued search for open space led us to the modern art galleries. May stood mesmerized in front of an abstract wall hanging entitled Dusasa II, a huge sculpture made of aluminum, copper wire, and plastic disks that for some reason appealed to her creative nature. With the many shades of brown seemingly tossed haphazardly on canvas, perhaps she was thinking, “I could do that,” and perhaps she could. I never understood the lure of abstract art, but then again, I like art to give me a glimpse into the lives of the artists, their travels, and the people they met along their journey. Perhaps the appeal of abstract art lies in its bold colors and seemingly haphazard approach, traits that are such a pronounced part of a child’s carefree early years. Just a thought!
After a final trip to the museum shop where she chose a small remembrance for herself and one for her sister Eloise, we carried an exhausted May to the car and headed for home. May’s New York adventure had come to its end until the next time she, and perhaps Eloise, can discover another small part of this huge city. For grown-ups and children alike, the many wonder-filled facets of New York need to be enjoyed in small doses. How fortunate we are as grandparents to be able to once again appreciate its greatness through the eyes of our granddaughter. We Love NY!