Two facts about last week:
1) I have an adorable new yellow purse that I am not carrying during the week.
2) I am putting C through hand-holding boot camp.
These facts are related. And they’re both Metro’s fault.
Here’s the deal. As many of you who frequent this space know, we are a commuting family. We take Metro to work and daycare every day. It’s not the worst commute ever but it’s not the easiest either. The hardest parts of commuting with a toddler are the parts where we have to get from the car to the train, from the train to daycare and vice versa. There’s walking involved and C is anti-hand-holding. Like the free-range toddlers of the wild west, he want to run free, free as the wind, gamboling in all directions, chasing butterflies, watching birds, sticking his fingers into every grimy sidewalk crack and examining every chewed-up wad of gum on the ground. And while this sort of thing might be fine if we were walking through a prairie, it is not ok in the crowded parking lots and train stations. So we don’t even try, we just slap him in a stroller and call it a day. I’m sure a moment will come when I’ll really need to teach him how not to run full-tilt away from me in pursuit of looking at a police car or dump truck up close and in person. But I was thinking that moment could happen later. And on a weekend.
Metro had other ideas.
For people who don’t know DC’s Metro system, I need to explain a bit. Metro is about 35 years old. The stations, particularly the older ones, are kind of majestic with high arching ceilings and red tile platforms but the amenities are…lacking. And by amenities, I mean elevators. Oh, every station has an elevator. They have to, to be compliant with the Americans With Disabilities Act. But the elevators are vintage, at best – small, slow, creaky, and at times kind of terrifying, particularly when they get crammed full of people with luggage. And there is never has more than one elevator exit, even when there is more than one exit to the station. For example, the station near my office has three exits, each approximately 2 blocks from the nest. There is one elevator and it happens to be at the exit six blocks from my office rather than the one two blocks from my office.So handicapped people can use Metro. They can even leave Metro. But they can’t do it conveniently.
The same goes for people with strollers.
I already had to break up with a Metro stop over an elevator. The station closest to my house required an elevator ride down from the pedestrian walkway that connected the stop to the parking garage across the street. That elevator died back in the spring It’s still not fixed. Well, maybe it got fixed at some point then broke again but when I was in there recently, it was broken. Also, that stop has the longest escalator on North America to take people from street level to the platform and only one ancient, rickety elevator as back-up. People with strollers or in wheelchairs cannot use that escalator. Cannot. Can’t be done. Out of the question. So we all wait for the slow, geriatric elevator which is always crammed full of apparently able-bodied people who are just kinda scared of the longest escalator in North America and also don’t give a shit about clogging the one option available to those of use with wheels in our commuting repertoire and I hate those people, hate them, hate them, hate them. Ahem. The point is, we go to a different stop now. The only one in the system with multiple elevators, high-speed ones at that. It’s much better for my stress level.
But now, the stop we can’t avoid, the stop by Cs daycare, is being “modernized”. That means Metro is fixing the escalators and elevators. Which, in reality, means they’re blocking off the elevators and doing what appears to be diddly-squat to them for the next three months. I’m serious. I’ve yet to see a worker anywhere near the boarded off elevators. Perhaps they need to age, like wine, before they can work on them? I don’t know. I just know that I’m left with the choice of taking a stroller on the escalators or teaching my child to walk through the Metro while holding my hand. Since the stroller/escalator combo has the potential for disaster should those escalators break down, which they do with alarming frequency, we’re doing hand holding boot camp.
Any given day, at about 5:30 pm, you can find me attempting to get to a train at Union Station. And at any given spot in Union Station, you might find me, bent double, one hand gripping the wrist of the screaming toddler who has dropped to the ground in a screaming tantrum of protest because he doesn’t want to be holding my hand. You’ll hear me calmly explaining to the screaming child that he can cry all night but I’m not going to let go of his hand so he might as well get up and walk. And I am doing this while wearing a small, Asian-print-inspired red back-pack-style diaper bag that I had retired ages ago because one cannot carry a shoulder bag, no matter how cute and yellow, while bending double over a screaming toddler without risking losing something important.
To tell the truth, I’m not sure what pisses me off more, the fact that Metro has pitted me in a battle of hand-holding will against my child or that it’s limiting my accessory options. Either way I’m pissed.
But at least C is learning to hold hands.
Great post. Also, I need to start using the phrase “diddly-squat” more often.
That totally sucks. I loathe the suburbs for many reasons, but I have to admit, the ability to drive and park right next to where I need to be was a big plus when the girl was small.
Of course, we still had the handholding fights. They just played out in a much smaller area.
PS – zebra print is fun!
I love “diddly-squat” too.
When Boo Boo was under the age of three I resorted to this pink and white stretchy band that velcroed around each of our wrists when we were somewhere big and full of people like a train station.
I kept one of those horrible wrist kid-leashes for moments when I absolutely had to have the kid with me but they’d rather chew their hand off at the wrist than let me hold it. Did it look stupid? Yep. DId I feel like a moron? You betcha. But eventually the kidlets got the message and decided holding my hand was better than wearing that monstrosity in public. Thank God.
Love this post! I visited DC for a wedding this spring, and the Metro as something of a nightmare. Like the time when I was running extremely late to meet friends because the hotel concierge told me the nearest Metro station was a 15 minute walk and it was, in fact, 45 minutes (this is taking into account the running I did during the last 15 minutes to try to get my train on time). About 3 stops before my stop at the end of the line, we all had to get off the train and take some sort of bus because the Metro was broken or being fixed or some such nonsense. Anyway, the point of my long story is to tell you that I have the utmost respect for you taking the Metro every day, twice a day, with a toddler. You deserve some sort of medal.
hang in there (literally and figuratively!) he will get the message that he has no choice but to hold your hand in public.
We did lots of walking round town with our eldest (coz it’s easy with one!) and he learnt to instinctively hold an adults hand when in a carpark or on the street. with the others it’s been a harder thing, coz with the more kids we have the less I take them out walking (we have 6 now, once the twins arrived – #4&5 – walking in public just *wasn’t* gonna happen!)
As with anything we try to teach our kids, it’s mega painful in the short term, but stick to your guns and it will be much easier in a weeks time. Unless he’s anything like my kids and is super stubborn, then give it a couple of weeks!
You are truly awesome to even attempt public transport with C! :OD
Of all the reasons I dislike the Metro, I never even considered the elevator issue – I suppose because I’ve never been forced to use them, which sounds like it’s a huge inconvenience.
I do so love the long escalators.
I’m just weird like that.
p.s.~ It was so awesome meeting you in person!!
I have at least twice been worried that Elsie had dislocated her own elbow by throwing herself to the ground while trying to escape me and my evil, evil hand-holding. As much as we’d love to be car-free I am grateful on a daily basis for the nice, in-escapable straps of her car seat. You have my sympathies.
Invest in one of those backpack leash things. I have a 2 year old girl and I use mine all of the time. Sometimes I get rude comments about me leashing her like a dog or some crap but I just respond with a big smile and say “at least no one is going to kidnap her”. I get more positive comments than I get rude comments, though. They are cute and come in different styles – puppy, monkey, piggy, etc.