While most girls Maggie’s age would choose to spend their 12th birthday celebration with their “besties” getting glittery manicures and bright pedicures or staying up late at a slumber party talking about who the cutest boys in school are and, of course, which member of One Direction they are going to marry, my Maggie had other ideas.
Maggie wished for a special day with her mom in New York City to “see the sights,” go to the Disney store and take lots of pictures.
Plans began about a month ago. They started like this:
ME: “Maggie do you want to go with mommy to New York City to celebrate a special birthday weekend?”
MAGGIE: “Sounds great mommy. Where would we go?”
ME: “We would stay at the Marriott Marquis.”
MAGGIE: “Wait a minute. Are there a lot of monkeys there?”
ME: “Huh? What do you mean?”
MAGGIE: “Well, you said it was the ‘Marriott Monkey.’”
Seriously, I can’t make this stuff up.
About a month later – and about 32,647 questions about what we would be doing when we got there – the day finally arrived. Can you believe…we both woke up feeling BLAH! Our throats were sore. Our heads hurt. We both felt sluggish. But Maggie had been counting down the days until our trip and nothing was going to hold her back.
My mother and Aunt Maureen joined us for the special occasion and Maggie couldn’t have been happier about that, despite her cough. The time came for us to board the westbound train to Penn Station. Of course, in true “us” fashion, we missed the train by one minute (as in 60 seconds, yup that’s what we do!) but it gave us an extra half hour on the platform for Maggie to entertain us with her wit and quips.
Once in the city, we checked into our room at the Marriott – where, in case you were wondering, there weren’t any monkeys – and headed outside to Maggie’s birthday celebration; a celebration with thousands upon thousands of guests all out to have a good time in New York City.
The weather was perfect for a day in Manhattan – sunny and bright, with just enough chill in the air to keep us moving briskly on the city sidewalks. Times Square swarmed with people and characters of all sorts including creepy “sort-of-look-like-the-original-but-definitely-have-bed-bugs-and/or-lice” ill-costumed people posing for pictures and hustling for tips with every click of the camera from parents and tourists. There was an evil-looking Elmo, a “helllllll no” Hello Kitty, a weird Woody and busted Buzz Light Year, a suspicious-looking Spider-Man wearing a backpack (the one character that my mother interacted with – see picture), a beat-up looking Batman, a smelly Smurfette, a mutant Mickey and Minnie, and a very confident man in Native American headdress and only a thong (oh, and boots).
Maggie was freaked out by these characters following an accidental viewing of a YouTube video where “Cookie Monster” kicked the crap out of someone who didn’t give a tip after taking a picture so we needed to avoid them at all costs.
We went on THE RIDE (www.experiencetheride.com) which was equal parts theatrical show, comedy sketch and immersive tour where we interacted with our fantastic tour guides (who even gave shout outs to Maggie for her birthday), laughed and sang.
Beginning and ending at 42nd Street at 8th Avenue, The Ride took us on a 75-minute adventure through Times Square and to see classic NYC sights, including the Chrysler Building, Grand Central Station, Bryant Park, NYC Main Branch of the Public Library, the Empire State Building, 42nd street, Shubert Alley/Broadway theaters, 6th Avenue Skyscrapers, Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park.
The Ride was AWESOME. I liked it better than any Broadway show. All four of us – and everyone on the bus – had a wonderful time. I will definitely go again!
When The Ride was over, Maggie was really feeling bad. But being the happy-go-lucky child she is, she insisted that we go to lunch anyway. All week leading up to this, she had been so excited about ordering a steak. But the poor girl only took three bites before she had to call it quits and put down her fork.
Afterwards, we headed to what she planned to be “the ultimate highlight” of our trip – the Disney store. I told her she could pick out ANYTHING she wanted (she never takes advantage so that was a safe offer) but after a few minutes looking around, she sadly asked if we could go back to the room because she wasn’t feeling well. Not well enough for the Disney store? If you just heard something break, that was my heart! Sigh.
We all went back to the room where we said goodbye to my mother and aunt (who were headed back to Long Island) and Maggie and I climbed into bed, snuggled under the covers and fell asleep. At 7:30 pm. This was a rockin’ birthday celebration.
The next day, we both woke up with raw throats but were ready to go explore. The saving grace was the long sleep we had both gotten. We took some medicine and braved the sidewalks and creepy characters.
We went back to The Disney Store. We explored Toys R Us. Maggie got to visit FAO Schwartz for the first time. We stopped at street vendors. Maggie got a caricature of herself. We people watched. We ate. We laughed.
By the time we were back on the train heading home, Maggie was wiped out. Despite being sick and exhausted, she gave me the biggest hug a mom could ever hope for as she said those magic words, “Mommy, I love you. Thank you for the best time ever!”
“Thank you Maggie. Every day with you is the best day ever – but this weekend was even a little bit better! I love you.”
Now, please pass the amoxicillin. (Insert Billy Joel’s melody): ‘Cause we’re in a “strep throat state of mind.”