Orient Express

Listened to The Girl scream bloody murder this afternoon because The Boy marched around the Metra platform, nowhere near the yellow strip and with the train running 20 minutes behind. This may be the reason that our adventures are severely reduced. With 3 kids, I cannot devote the mental energy required to prep us all plus watch the boys and work to calm The Girl (a futile effort it would seem). She was, quite literally, hysterical. Finally, after I threatened to go home and then counted slowly to 10 with her for about 5 minutes straight, she calmed down enough that we were able to sit on the platform and wait another 10 minutes for the train to arrive.

The transportation comedy of errors continued when the water taxi reached capacity as we were on the ramp, and we had to wait 20 minutes for another boat. It ended up a good thing, however, as we discovered when the next boat showed up that the original boat was heading east to Michigan Avenue, in the opposite direction of Chinatown.

Before getting on the water taxi, we stopped at the food court in Ogilivie Center for lunch. Food courts are such a bad concept for families with young children. The Boy, The Girl, and The Tot had McDonald’s Happy Meals while I had an Arby’s Jr. The Dad got something from Great Steak and while he was waiting, I fell victim to the tourist-hounding scam artists downtown: $1 for a postcard of Chicago’s skyline “to help the homeless.” Oh well; The Boy can send it to Grandma Texas.

We did eventually get the water taxi to Chinatown and enjoyed a pleasant ride down the river to Ping Tom Memorial Park. We let the kids plan on the equipment for a good 1/2 hour before heading further into Chinatown in search of caffeine and a snack. I hadn’t been to Chicago’s Chinatown in over 20 years, so the outdoor shopping mall we entered through the “Dragon Gate” was completely unfamiliar. What I remember of Chinatown is garish storefronts, MSG-laden and dark Chinese restaurants, and 5 & Dime stores selling rice candy and cheaply made bamboo finger cuffs. Very different from the sleek and airy restaurants, bubble-tea hawkers, and imports stores that greeted us today. It was at this point that The Boy ramped up his complaints: he didn’t want to eat here and he wanted to go home, NOW, for a snack.

We stopped at Joy Yee for dessert–original frozen yogurt (that actually tasted like yogurt) with sprinkles and M&Ms for The Girl and The Boy, respectively. The Boy didn’t like his and quickly abandoned his “no-sharing-with-The-Tot” attitude and the yogurt itself to The Tot, who loved it. The Dad ordered a watermelon smoothie with tapioca; he discovered 3 sips in that he doesn’t like bubble tea (what was he doing during our 4-year stint in Silicon Valley?!?).

The Boy, The Girl, The Tot and I made a brief trip into a store with lots of Sanrio. The Boy begged me for some Yam-Yam sticks and got them. The Tot ran in circles until I handed him to The Dad outside. The Girl and I looked at lots of Hello Kitty stuff, eventually settling on stickers and a sandwich carrier.

Not long after, we called it quits and headed back to the park, the water taxi and the train. We caught the 4:30 p.m. train home, just managing to find 3 adjacent seats way up in the front of the train. I did have to ask a woman seated near us to move her giant bag and nearly-as-large purse out of the seat so that The Boy could sit down for 10 minutes while she read her Lucky magazine with a disgusted look on her pinched face. Oh to be the fly on the wall of the compartment after we got off at the Irving Park stop and a whole crowd of drunk and sweaty Cubs fans got on after the afternoon’s double header. I was never so happy to get off a train, walk home, and make dinner (zucchini quiche with zukes and dill from this morning’s farmer’s market at the park this morning).


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