There is a delightful and wistful old song called “I left my heart in San Francisco” that many of you may remember. It highlights the joys of San Francisco in contrast to other cities. Included in those lyrics are these:
I’ve been terribly alone and forgotten in Manhattan
These lyrics could have been penned by my daughter; let me explain:
I love America and so does my daughter, now 18 years old, and we have travelled there many times. But on my most recent journey, I simply left my child, (alone but not forgotten), in New York city.
I confess it’s not the first time I’ve tried to leave her in New York.
When she was just a baby, before her first birthday, we travelled on an extended family holiday to Las Vegas, New York, London, Paris, Florida and San Francisco, all 7 of us – what were we thinking?…
Despite the logistics of travelling with 3 adults, 3 children and an infant, (don’t even get me started on finding places to change a baby and where to sterilise her bottles), we enjoyed visiting all the tourist spots in New York city. We saw the sights and shopped whilst the winter winds whipped through the corridors of skyscrapers above us. My daughter was pushed around in a stroller for most of the journey but she was clearly born to travel and took to it like the proverbial duck to water.
The other three children took turns pushing her around the town as we tried to keep warm but were determined to see as much as possible.
On one of our long walks, from uptown to downtown, we stopped to browse in the souvenir stores on 7th Avenue and left a family member outside with the baby in the stroller. As we all left the store and headed off to explore some second-hand bookshops one of the children asked the question no parent ever wants to hear: “Where’s the baby?”
That was my first attempt at leaving my daughter behind in New York city.
It didn’t dampen her enthusiasm for travel or for America though, as you will see.
The second time I tried to leave my child in New York city was when she had just turned 13 and we were travelling in America in winter, again.
She was so thrilled to be in New York city because she claimed not to remember her first trip when she was a baby, 12 years earlier…
We visited many tourist spots including Madame Tussaud’s, Central Park, Rockefeller Centre, the Empire State building and crossed the Queensboro Bridge via the Roosevelt Island tramway, and had a wonderful time.
And then one afternoon, we were travelling on the subway and became confused about which train we should catch for our destination.
My husband, his mother, our daughter and I stood near the open doors of the train and we needed to make a decision.
Someone decided we should board. Then we jumped on and decided it wasn’t the right train so my daughter, being the youngest, alighted onto the platform first.
Then the doors of the train closed.
My beautiful, 13 year old child, was stranded at 42nd Street subway station, alone, as we zoomed away.
The last thing she saw was my husband yelling at her through the door of the train, ordering her to stay where she was.
I tried to remain calm but it was difficult. We alighted at the next station, raced around to find the correct platform for us to return to 42nd Street and then jumped aboard the train to find her. They were probably some of the longest minutes of my life… and hers.
Afterwards we did what all parents do after making an almost fatal mistake – we took her to Serendipity 3 and plied her with ice cream to make up for it.
I think she forgave us because she has looked forward to returning to New York ever since, and as I mentioned at the start, she is there now, because:
I left my child in New York city.
Stay tuned for the next instalment of:
I left my child in New York city.
Do you have any stories about leaving your child behind?