“Enjoy this time,” everyone tells us. “They grow up so fast.” And they do, and I do. I certainly don’t want this short window–the few months during which my son is preverbal but incredibly chatty–to end so soon. Any day now, he’ll be actually speaking, and everything will be different, yet again. (Same thing happened when he started walking. Suddenly he was finished being a tiny immobile sitting-cutely baby, and as much as I love this kid, I miss that kid.)
But there is one thing I am hugely looking forward to, and that’s easier mobility. Going somewhere with a toddler is (as most of you know) a Sherpa’s job, involving diaper bags, strollers, stroller rain hoods, extra clothes, blankets, ointments, snacks, sippy cups, toys and other distractions, and possibly a camera or two. For carless New Yorkers like myself, take all that and add to it the discreet charms of the subway–which, in the case of our local station, has not materially changed in form since opening day in 1904. The concrete steps are a very narrow eight feet or so wide, and go two flights down; the turnstiles are too tight for a stroller; the handicapped-access gate emits a loud alarm when opened, to discourage fare-beating. At the other end of the ride, there may be an elevator (if it’s a major transfer point), but subway elevators sometimes function as subway urinals, and they are extremely unpleasant places to be. The city has been required to make its stations ADA-compliant for decades, and has received extension after extension from the Feds, and it’s obvious why. A system of more than 700 miles and 400 stations, virtually all built in tight quarters long before the disabled were a consideration, cannot be remade unless (a) implausible amounts of funding materialize, or (b) we do it slowly, over 50 years or more, in among all the other patches on repairs on fixes that the subways require. We’ve all clearly decided to go with option (b).
What this means, effectively, is that we make very few trips out of our neighborhood. A fifteen-to-twenty-block radius often defines our weekend, and there are months where that’s it. My wife’s office is within that orbit, and mine’s a short subway ride beyond the daycare dropoff. The ruts run pretty deep, and being sprung from the tight limitations of strollerability is something I’m really, really waiting for.
Of course, that’s when I’ll have to start worrying about his running into traffic.