Pointing out the fact that kids like trains is like saying kids enjoy ice cream, or the circus.
But I’ve been reminded a few times in the past couple weeks that the daily task of climbing aboard Metro-North is, to me, a serious grind, but the act is full of wonder and novelty to the kiddies of Westchester, and elsewhere.
It started when my neighbor, recently going his own way in terms of business, and breaking from his daily commute to Manhattan, began driving his wife to the train each morning, two little kiddies in tow.
They don’t just drive Mom to the train. They get out, walk along the fence separating the tracks from the parking lot, wave to Mom, wave to me, and wait in mega anticipation for the 8:16 to roll in.
I believe they repeat the routine some nine hours later.
I saw the same drill last week, when a lady from town that I know brought her granddaughter, visiting from Texas, to watch Grandpa climb aboard his morning train.
Last night, we brought Little G and Little Miss C to Valhalla Crossing, which we as a group had not visited in several months. (I, on the other hand, took Joseph Walden and Emily Moser–my creative partners on “The New York Commuter’s Glossary”–out to lunch there when the book was done.)
Valhalla Crossing is, of course, the old Valhalla train station, with a few converted rail cars serving as dining cars.
Little G has been back into trains of late. He was crazy for trains–we knew the whole Thomas lineup, from Dennis to James to Emily and even Chinese Dragon–by heart when he was 2 and 3, but the trains lost out to dinosaurs (ages 4 and 5), then skyscrapers, dragons and cruise ships for a spot in Little G’s heart and mind.
But, this past weekend, there he was–pushing a mini 6 train I paid too much for at the GCT Transit Museum up and down wooden Thomas tracks that had taken over our family room.
He was also boo-hooing that we’d driven into the city Saturday for a visit to Imagination Playground, instead of taking the train–even though I told him Metro-North to GCT, then subway to the bottom of Manhattan, would take forever, and we could take both Metro-North and the subway for a Mets game in the next few weeks.
In fact, I ran into an old rugby pal at that playground Saturday, who had his two year old boy with him. They hadn’t planned on visiting the playground, or even visiting Manhattan from their Fort Greene home. But the kid wanted to see the “choo choo,” so Dad and son walked to the subway station. And when the train arrived, the kid of course wanted to board.
As we rode along the Bronx River Parkway to the restaurant last night, Little G was staring at the tracks parallel to us, looking for the train, making note of the Railroad Crossing signs at various intersections.
So there we were, being seated at our table at Valhalla Crossing, Little G suddenly crying because the server would not let us have the six-seater next to the window, forcing us to the four-top with the limited view of the tracks.
Little G ate three pieces of bread and butter and came around.
Over the course of our fairly quick meal, a young couple came in with a little boy of about 2, who went batty for the trains rolling by.
Then a woman and her mother in law came in with two boys of about 3 and 4, who fought bitterly for the seat closest to the window, and the better view of the train tracks. One kid was rolling a train set up and down the window sill in anticipation.
I half joked that the restaurant should install a departures/arrivals board, or at least have some sort of display saying when the next train was due in, as I was asked that question a million times during the meal, and I’m sure the other parents in the room were too. They could also knock out the entire wall and replace it with glass, and call it the Kid’s Club Car or something like that. (Speaking of Club Cars, the Journal News dug the glittering new dining joint in the Mamaroneck train station.)
So it’s a good reminder that we are lucky to live in a region where trains roll by constantly; in fact, many of us chose to live in that region because a train links us to that metropolis to the south.
Riding the thing each day is still a grind though.