Walking like a pro

Conquering the plaza

Conquering the plaza

The big news from our world over the last few weeks is that Powerwoman and I now are the proud parents of three fully ambulatory human beings.

Allow me to translate that for you: Baby G is walking up a storm.

The littlest Villano isn’t just meandering here and there. Instead, girl is marching with purpose, often leaving her sisters and me in the dust. In practice, this can be difficult to manage, as the baby is always a few steps ahead of us old fogies. In theory, however, it’s a harbinger of great times to come, since we clearly have added a third adventuresome daughter to the mix.

Our new status as a family with three ambulating kids means our travel experiences will be completely different from here on out. Less stroller time. Less backpack time. More time with everyone on foot.

So far—thankfully, I might add—the big girls have taken to keeping tabs on their little sister, often holding G’s hands when we’re out and about. When the big sisters aren’t around to hold the baby’s hands, Powerwoman and I happily oblige.

It will be interesting to see how these trends continue on our next big trip: Disneyland. Will L and R take the time to look after their sister at a theme park? Will G be overwhelmed by the rides and crowds and not want to walk around on her own? These all are questions we’ll be able to resolve over the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Powerwoman and I fully intend simply to enjoy the ride.

G is still in that wonderful stage where walking is so new that everything she sees while she’s ambulating is amazing and great and wonderful. She could see the same stuff in a stroller and not care at all. On her own two feet, however, look out!

How did your kids’ ambulation change your family travels?

A NYC walk to remember

Girls owning NYC streets

Girls owning NYC streets

As transplanted New Yorkers living in Northern California, my wife and I have TONS of memories of living in New York. We’ve shared dozens and dozens of those with our kids over the years.

One of our recollections that has stuck out most for the kids: The fact that you can walk everywhere.

We live in the country now, so you can imagine why the notion of ambulating is so intriguing. We can get places! With no car! (We did this in London when we lived there in 2013, but R was too little to remember it, and L seems to remember destinations instead of how we got to them.) The girls also have said they are fascinated by the ideas of buildings twinkling like stars, smoke rising from subway grates, and relatively empty streets. I think they have imagined walking at night in the city to be like walking on air.

Naturally, then, during our family vacation in New York City earlier this month, we HAD to walk around at night. We got our chance after meeting friends for dinner and dessert in Little Italy. The restaurants were 1.2 miles from our hotel. So we hoofed it “home.”

Watching the big girls fulfill this fantasy was nothing short of bliss. They started by holding hands with our friends’ kids, skipping and singing as they bounced down the sidewalk a few paces ahead of us. They marveled at the illuminated skyscrapers. They jumped when taxicabs honked horns. They even stopped to peruse the offerings of a little bodega in Chinatown.

When our friends peeled off to do some shopping, our pod continued on foot, the girls continuing their love affair with all things urban and night.

Even Baby G got in on the curiosity act; from her perch in Powerwoman’s Ergo, she took it all in, smiling and gurgling with delight.

Yes, there was drama—a cabbie nearly ran R off the road, and when we spotted a rat, the kids shrieked. There also were the requisite complaints—about five blocks before we reached our hotel, L complained of her foot hurting and R said she was too tired to go on. (Both persevered.)

Finally, about 30 minutes after we left Little Italy, we arrived at the hotel, safe and sound. As we rode the elevator, the baby triggered a yawn chain that left the big girls scraping the bottom of their respective barrels of energy for the day. Through her squinty eyes, with her body entering ragdoll-mode, L put it all into perspective: “That might have been my favorite part of the trip, guys. I wish we could walk everywhere.”

Taking Things Slow

slow

When we finally got to Starbucks, the kids chowed down.

The sun has been setting super-early here in recent weeks, which has forced the girls and me to devise new strategies for play sessions after R’s nap. Some days, the girls and I take a bus to someplace fun and explore by the lights of the city. On super-cold days, like today, we stay closer to home, often wandering around the neighborhood, just for the sake of getting out.

These excursions are less about where we’re headed and more about the journey itself. As we wander, the girls jump off stoops, inspect fallen leaves, sing Taylor Swift songs (yes, really) and point at helicopters flying overhead.

And, as you can imagine, with so many activities and distractions, we don’t move very quickly. In fact, we make slugs look speedy.

Tonight, for instance, a “simple” stroll to the local Starbucks, eight blocks from our flat, took 36 minutes. To put that into perspective, in the same amount of time, we could have watched an entire episode of Seinfeld AND made a grilled cheese. I also could have written this blog post.

Some might be bothered by this pace. As for me, I kind of love it. My job keeps me up late every night. I’m up early to get the girls ready and drop L at school. Every day—even weekends—has lots going on.

And that’s precisely why these ambles with the kiddos are so damn fun.

I’ve written posts that touch upon this notion before, posts about the benefit of nothing on a family trip. I can’t stress the importance of slowing down strongly enough. At a time when so many of us family travelers are rushing off to see this museum or that famous landmark, an era when so many of us moms and dads program ourselves to shuttle kids from school to football practice and ballet, having a few hours just to be with the kids is a wonderful gift.

Even if these walks force me to wait for my triple tall Americano, even if they make us human icicles by the time we get home, the aimless strolls I take with my girls are a critical component of bonding as a brood. I’ve got all the patience in the world to move at their pace. After all, who knows how much longer they’ll even want me to come?

 To what extent do you factor in “nothing time” with your family when you travel?

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