Many years ago, I came up with the model for Mama-Ben adventure days. These were days in which we would pick one or two activities to do together, usually in Manhattan, hence the “adventure” part because you never know what kind of adventure would await those who brave the weekend subway! With Ben’s sports schedule though, it’s been a while since we’ve been able to do a solid Saturday adventure together. So yesterday, we decided that we would spend the day exploring and seeing things a little further from home, both in Manhattan and the Bronx.
Ben is actually in the Bronx!
We started our day at the Harry Potter: A History of Magic exhibit, at the New York Historical Society on the Upper West side. This was a literal history of magic as seen through a Harry Potter lens: historical artifacts from magical practices over the last five centuries, intermixed with illustrations and notes from the books. A friend and I bought tickets for this in April for our Pottermaniac children to see the exhibit together.
It was therefore meaningful for us to visit those seals’ New York cousins, even though I’m pretty sure that these Bronx seals were all WHAT’RE YOU LOOKING AT, PUNK. Ben still enjoyed seeing them, and I appreciated the opportunity to show him seals that are not dependent on humans for food. Ben is very concerned about the Victoria seals since the “no feeding” rules were enforced; these seals proved that even metro area harbour seals can survive without handouts.
From the seals, we stayed in Pelham Bay Park and went to the Turtle Cove golf center for mini-golf. I was underwhelmed by the mini-golf course, which I suppose could be described as “minimalist”. I suspect the positive reviews of the location are for the driving range, which looked quite nice. However, we were the only people playing mini golf and they had a heater in the women’s bathroom so the experience was redeemed. Also, Ben’s attitude towards mini golf is what most people say about pizza: even when it’s bad, it’s still just fine. It was hard for me to say no to a second round, even in the ocean-adjacent chill. Fortunately, that was when one of Ben’s buddies mom’s texted, asking if Ben could come see Ralph Breaks the Internet with her son, and I was able to leverage that as a reason to skip Round Two. Also, Ben only wanted a round two because I had beat him, 49 strokes to his 63, and he is very competitive about his mini-golf.
It was, chilliness aside, a lovely adventure day. Ben is getting larger every day, and needs me less and less all the time. I’m grateful when he genuinely wants to spend time with me, when in-city adventures with Mama are more important than playdates. I’m even more grateful when I can find an activity that is special to both of us, like going out to see the seals. I do not wish to appropriate the phrase “spirit animal”, but in my British Isles heritage, there is the myth of the selkie instead, which both Ben and I insist we are when there is a plate of raw fish involved. However, we are coming up on teen years, and I’m running out of days when Ben will want to acknowledge the significance of marina mammals in our family narrative. Some day, I will just get an eye roll and a muttered “seals are so lame, Mom.” from him. Until that day comes, I need to better prioritize the time I do have him for adventures like this.