My friend Jess and I have gotten into the habit of meeting up on Mondays and getting our kids (my three, her one) together for various activities. We've done the zoo, we've done various playgrounds, but Jess really wanted to take a trip to the New England aquarium, and thanks to her corporate connections (read: she still works at the bank I escaped a couple of years ago), we could get in mostly free. So this Monday didn't work out, but we made plans for today.
There was just one little obstacle: Getting into Boston for 9 or 10 a.m., as she had work later on and Mary and Anna had their little dance class. The first option was driving in and parking, but the idea of stop-and-go with three kids in the backseat was not exactly appealing. Neither was the $35 price sticker on every parking garage within a two mile radius of the aquarium.
Which left...the train.
Don't get me wrong, I am a big fan of public transportation. I actually like traveling by subway...when I'm by myself. Not when I have an almost-three-year-old who's keen on bolting after whatever shiny thing catches her eye and an almost-one-year-old who thinks the stroller is anything between boring and evil.
"I've done it with Jac before," Jess said. "But we can do it another time, when the guys can go with us."
But time was of the essence, because after Saturday, Anna won't be free admission anymore. Saving almost $20 means I can tolerate the T for a little while. And so we packed a lunch (tuna fish sandwiches seemed somehow appropriate) and headed out.
Traffic wasn't bad heading to our train stop of choice. I thank the mid-week holiday for that one. And we managed to get enough seats for everyone and keep the strollers unfolded on a nearly empty train. Lily only freaked out once, and Mary and Anna were relatively well behaved on our inbound excursion. (The overly hirsute homeless man in a plaid suit and many rings who sat directly in front of us and muttered to himself the entire ride may have helped put the fear of God into them.)
We arrived at the stop to transfer to the blue line. This is where I got nervous. It was a lot more crowded here.
"Mary, stay with Auntie," I commanded. "Anna, be my person." Anna remarkably complied with me. She followed along happily, all the way to the...staircase. There was no elevator to be seen.
Somehow, we carried (yes, carried) two strollers down two flights of stairs, didn't lose any preschoolers in the process and successfully boarded the proper train to reach the aquarium. One more harried unboarding and we were home free. There were even elevators here!
We took one tiny, hot, shaky elevator to the main level of the T stop. We went through the increasingly warm stop to the next elevator bank, to the street...whereupon Anna managed to get her fingers caught between the two parallel sliding doors.
Anna screamed. I gasped, powerless and backed into a corner by a stroller. Jess, who was closer, pulled her hand out at lightning speed and we finished exiting onto the street, where people stopped and stared at the spectacle. There was Anna, whose fingers were merely pinched and not, thank God, broken, screaming as though we'd cut her leg off. There was Mary, dancing around asking if she was okay and making up a song about elevators who eat people. Then there were the babies.
The Breeder Convention had arrived in Boston with aplomb.
Anna was calmed down, streets were crossed, admission paid and granted, and soon we were immersed in the black lit aquarium, which at that hour wasn't even that crowded.
Anna was thrilled to see the sharks in the giant circular tank. Mary was in love with the giant sea turtle and colorful tropical fish. We made it to the top of the tank without incident.
And then I had to open my mouth.
"Mary, isn't this great?"
She turned. She smiled. She turned back to the tank. She put on her Outside Voice for all to hear.
"Fish are DELICIOUS!"