And here it is: the long awaited follow up to Beantown: Part One!
Day Two started with us on the go! The night before, Chad and I looked through a Freedom Trail book that I bought at Faneuil Hall, and picked out some exciting things to do and see. Turned out we were right across the street from one of the oldest graveyards in the country — and I love old graveyards. I view them almost as museums: poetry engraved on beautiful, hand-crafted monuments and statues, and I’m always in awe of their age and beauty. So first thing, we decided I could check out the graveyard, which was not stroller/wheelchair accessible, and Nate and Chad would have a little Daddy and Me time. I headed into the Granary Burying Ground and said hello to (the) Samuel Adams, John Hancock, and Paul Revere and paid quiet respects to the five bodies buried from (the) Boston Massacre. I took my time but felt like I needed to hurry along so we could all start our day. So I headed out and crossed the street to find this:
Chad bought Nate a huge donut and Nate had nearly nibbled away all of the glazed portions. It was time to go. So off we went to our first stop: the Tadpole Playground in Boston’s Public Gardens.
The playground had monkey bars, a swinging bridge (Nate and Chad are climbing over it in this photo), slides, and many heights to explore. It also had a splash pad, which, thankfully, was turned off at eight in the morning, otherwise I would have had a soaking wet toddler for the day. We played here for a while, somehow convinced Nate to leave, and continued on a merry walk. The swan boats weren’t open yet (such is a problem when your toddler is an early riser) but the ducks are always out and about–the Make Way for Ducklings ducks, that is!
To prepare Nate for this trip, I bought two books: Larry Gets Lost in Boston, which is dog’s tour of the Freedom Trail when he gets separated from his family in Beantown, and Make Way for Ducklings. The latter didn’t hold Nate’s interest but Larry’s book did introduce the Public Gardens and the Ducklings statues so it seemed slightly familiar to Nate. After checking to see if the duck bit (it didn’t)….
Nate hopped right on to his new metal feathered friend.
We decided to walk over to Beacon Street and then head back toward the Freedom Trail via Beacon Hill. And this is where the trouble began.
See, Nate had spent the morning out of his (super wide, super comfortable, super awesome) stroller. He ran on a playground, he walked past swan boats, he sat on non-moving ducks. Now we needed him to get back into his stroller–and Nate was having nothing to do with it. The treats we had purchased that morning were gone and we had very little to reward him with if he sat in his stroller. For a while, Chad got away with carrying Nate on his shoulders, though (obviously) Nate really wanted to be let free in Beantown.
That left me to push the stroller in..well, I should say, up Beacon Hill. A hill of steep proportions. All the while, Nate moaned about not being able to walk and I tried to take photos of the beautiful gardens that we passed so I could figure out what flowers they used and put them in my garden. (Anyone know what these red flowers are?)
It all rose to a frenzy when Nate made it clear that he wanted DOWN and Chad needed help so I let go of the stroller and–you guessed it–it rolled right into traffic and down Beacon Hill. Thank God Nate wasn’t in it (though I’m certain I would never have let go of it in that case) and I was able to catch up to our rolling cart. That was enough excitement to make us slow down a bit…and look for a Dunkin’ Donuts to buy some motivators so Nate would get back in his seat.
We got Nate’s treats and, with Nate seated, walked back through Faneuil Hall to the New England Aquarium. As Chad purchased our tickets, I explained to Nate where we were and what we were about to do. Unexpectedly, Nate got very excited–but not about the aquarium. He got excited about a pole outside of the aquarium. And he wouldn’t let go of it.
We had a little chat with Nate, which helped him let go of the pole after a ten minute hug fest. (I’m still not sure what was so spectacular about the pole.) As soon as we got Nate to the first fish tank, he forgot all about that pole…
Nate also adored the penguins….
And the giant salt water tank. (Chad and Nate climbed all the way to the top.)
And, of course, he loved the coin smusher machine. He really loved the coin smusher machine.
When we completed the tour of the Aquarium, it was time for lunch, so we plopped Nate in his stroller and headed out the door. We had an all day pass for the Aquarium and planned to return prior to boarding the Duck Boat but, for the moment, it was time to eat.
There was no possible way to get Nate to understand that we were coming back. He panicked. No matter what street we took looking for a restaurant, Nate knew how to get back to the Aquarium and did all the pointing he could to tell us so. If we tried to enter a restaurant, Nate spread his legs wide so his stroller couldn’t fit through the door. At our wits’ end, Chad and I resigned ourselves to a cafeteria meal at the Aquarium (which Nate happily looked at but did not eat) and then enjoyed not one but two additional and complete tours of the New England Aquarium, led by Nate.
As the time to board the Duck Boat Tour neared, we started counting down with Nate and managed to get out of the Aquarium with little drama. Chad and Nate went for a walk while I held our line in place and I asked the tour coordinator to seat us in the area of the boat that would have the least sound from the speakers. Turns out, the tour coordinator’s sister is eight years old and on the autism spectrum, too, so she completely understood and she got our tour guide to turn the sound system down a bit.
Then we hit another problem: Nate did not want to board the boat. Chad and Nate were the last ones on board because Nate was hooting and hollering that we are leaving the aquarium behind and no one leaves the aquarium behind! Somehow we got him on that boat and once it started to move (!!!), Nate was fine. And he was elated when we drove from the street right into the water! He even let me take some selfies with him. ;)
After the Duck Boat tour, we needed to return to the hotel. This was our first trip with Nate since he became potty trained and he’s not yet comfortable with public restrooms. So we needed a wee (literally) break. As we walked the mile or so, Nate made it clear that he knew where we should turn. Every turn. Just like the layouts of Disney World’s parks, Nate memorized the Freedom Trail map during our brief visit. Blocks away from our hotel, Nate started pointing at our hotel’s sign…and also pointed two blocks up to the Dunkin’ Donuts, too….
We headed back to Faneuil Hall for dinner, where Nate *finally* ate some real food.
And then we went shopping! Nate picked out an American flag (if a store is selling them, Nate must buy one) and a Patriot hat.
And then my little patriot did something most amazing. Most wonderful. He politely walked throughout Faneuil Hall, found a spot to himself, and began to appropriately play with his truck.
Nate played with his monster truck for a good twenty minutes. And he played so well that he inspired other kids to jump on cement cylinders of their own and play, too. Chad kept looking around to realize Nate instigated all this spontaneous play in the city!
It was getting close to bedtime. Once we managed to end the monster truck play, Nate wanted to visit one more shop. Friends, if you’re ever in Faneuil Hall, take your kids to the Harley Davidson shop. It is *the* most kid friendly store we visited in the area and the staff were lovely. The window display motorbike is bolted to the floor; Nate could have stood on it with no problem. Nate loved “riding” the motorbike (with his patriot hat on, of course) and we bought him a souvenir motorbike to take home.
We got back to the hotel room (guided by Nate), exhausted. Chad and I learned a lot of things on this wee trip. Though we consider Nate to be well traveled, having been to more places in his brief lifetime that either of us had traveled by the time we were eighteen, we expected this trip to be a breeze. However, we quickly realized that wasn’t the case. Nate’s traveled to three places — Hawaii and Maine, to visit with family, and Disney World. Visits with family are very accommodating and Disney World is a curated experience with staff at every turned trained to work with kids on the autism spectrum. That doesn’t exist in the real world. An old city, we had trouble finding accessible areas that could accommodate Nate’s stroller when we walked, visited stores, and ate meals. Sound levels were sky high in restaurants; the aquarium was incredibly overcrowded; and personal space was a luxury. In addition to recovering from a virus, these elements led to many meltdowns for Nate. When he looks back at this trip, I’m certain Nate will only remember that it was fun. But Chad and I know that there was a fair share of stress (for all three of us) involved.
With Nate asleep, Chad and I ordered dessert to our room (our hotel invented Boston Cream Pie and Parker House Rolls so we felt it would be a sin if we didn’t try them before we left) and decided that we’d scrap the last day of our trip. We would only go to one last place before heading back home. And what a place it was. Friends. It was The World’s Only Curious George Store.
Once Nate realized where we were, he got extremely excited!
There was only one problem: we got there before the store opened. So, Nate tried to let us in himself. (It didn’t work.)
I’m sad to say that this is the only photo we have of Nate in the store as Nate had a bit of a sensory overload when he got inside.
Behind Nate is a display of every Curious George episode book printed — multiple copies of them. Nate has all of these books and he reads them daily; he’ll often follow a television episode with the book, too. Nate wanted all of the books — every copy that the store had. So he started taking each one out of the display, opening them, and reading them. Then he started running in the store because he was so excited that everything was George. Our visit to this awesome store ended with me hauling a bag of treats and Chad hauling Nate over his shoulder as he kicked and screamed about not being able to take all the books.
Dear friends, that was Boston in a nutshell. It was awesome fun and extremely overwhelming at the same time. It’s made Chad and I rethink what future mini-vacations will consist of and, likely, they won’t be to major cities where noise is high and accessibility accommodations are low. But we had great fun and hopefully Nate won’t remember anything but that.