I love fall so much that as soon as that I smell that first autumnal tang in the air I start to panic. I think this comes from growing up in the Midwest, where “autumn” signifies two days of bright leaves and benevolent weather before an icy rain storm beats everything to pulp – I am gripped all season by a rushed sense of impending doom.
So I try to wring every earth-toned, apple-cider-scented, crispy-leaf-crunching moment out of this best of all seasons, and my hyperness about it is only heightened by having a child. I’m determined that Harper will have an absolutely enchanted autumn, whether she even processes what’s going on or not.
Which leads me to another point where fun and stress intersect, and something I hope to write about more on this blog — the sometimes unfortunate bounty of Things To Do in New York City. A childless friend mused, when I made some comment about how I never leave the building after 7 pm anymore, that at least now I wouldn’t have that weird stress one feels living here that there are so very many things there are to do, that constant nagging feeling that you have chosen wrong and are missing the really great things. To her I said, Ha! Did she have any idea how many fun and cool-sounding kid-related things there are to choose from?! No. No she did not. The answer is: many. There are many. Too many. I should know. I read Mommy Poppins after all, and subscribe to Time Out Kids, which arrives monthly to thrill and frighten me with a new list of Can’t Misses that I (and my poor child) will surely miss.
Anyway, I know this sounds like an embarrassment of riches, and it is, and I appreciate that. Except that as soon as you actually do go to something you realize most of the time it’s lame and over-crowded. (Last Halloween waiting for the Haunted Walk in Prospect Park I overheard a mother tell her impatient child, “We live in New York. You wait on line. What do you want?”)
Case in point: today’s Harvest Festival at JJ Byrne Park. It looked good on paper, it really did: pumpkin decorating! Petting zoo! Live music! PONY RIDES! But of course – why on earth should I be surprised? – we get there and it’s a mass of strollers, a huge line for the mangy-looking pony plodding around a dismal ring of dirt, and the same old Rolie Polie Guacamole, those tsars of the Park Slope kids music world, playing that same damn song about liking to be upside down. (Okay, it’s a pretty good song.)
All of which is fine, since Harper and her buddy Ella were perfectly happy just to play on the playground. Harper can go down slides for about three hours straight without getting bored, and Ella (who’s about to turn 3) busied herself inventing elaborate dance moves. Highlights included getting to play with a grimy, abandoned ball and then eating apples from the farmer’s market.
Seriously, is there any point to bringing little kids to events like this, when what they love most is getting to walk someone’s old coffee cup over to the trash? Someone tell me, please.