What A View

by Marilynn Halas on January 13th, 2012
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            Last week I kept a promise that I made last March.   Growing up in the shadow of Manhattan, I somehow thought that my kids were as done with the New York tourist scene as I was.  As if they had somehow inherited my endless visits with Irish relatives on my mother’s professional tour of the Big Apple.  She always began with the Circle Line and then, the Empire State Building, a Broadway show and the grand finale, dinner at Windows on the World.  As a kid I must have waited in line to see New York’s attractions for hours and as a teenager, I relished the fact that I was no longer required to tag along.  The thing is, experiences aren’t hereditary and to my kids here in Connecticut, going in to the city is a big treat.  Unlike me, they have never had to make the commute in sub-zero weather or splash around a street corner trying to hail a cab during a spring rain.  For them, there is nothing but magic and wonder and amazing food.

I think one of the best parts of being a mom is getting to see things through the eyes of our children.   Last week, I got to fall in love with New York all over again because I made a promise to my child.  He was desperate to go to the top of the Empire State Building.  He learned about it in school and saw it every time we crossed the George Washington Bridge on the way home.  He asked to go and I agreed, thinking that we would go someday.   Truth be told, I was hoping we could wait until he was older or until we had more free time.  (Free time, funny right?  I don’t know any family with actual free time.)

He asked a few times before I said the fateful words, “I Promise.”  Once those words were uttered I knew the dye was cast.   We planned to go during a school break that rained for ten days.  We rescheduled to a summer day when an unexpected fog blanketed the city.   We planned to do it on a crisp fall weekend and then discovered how busy high school kids are on the weekends.  It took us four tries, but we finally did it.  It was about 50 degrees and we practically had the place to ourselves at eight pm.

After the Holiday rush is blissfully peaceful and the whole family was able to go right up with practically no wait at all.  The people who work there were so welcoming and knowledgeable that we felt right at home.  After about fifteen minutes we emerged on the observation deck and saw the sparkling jewel that is New York City twinkling in the moonlight.  When they saw the George Washington Bridge they actually jumped up and down with excitement.  In all my visits, I never had as much fun as I did that night watching my kids get that perspective of the city for the first time.  They have been driven all over New York and seen a lot, but to see it all at once, from so magnificent a perch was something I know they will never forget.

They learned a great deal about the men who sacrificed and died to build it and they learned about the hope it gave New York as our nation emerged from the Great Depression.  They also discovered a whole new world that exists for all of us if we can learn to look at things from a different angle.  That night, I got a new perspective too.  My kids have a right to experience this world for themselves and I get the privilege of discovering how much better it is when I see it through their excited eyes.

I’ll take them on the Circle Line this summer and they will continue to see as many Broadway shows as are made for children.  I can’t share Windows on the World with them because it was stolen from all of us on 9-11, but what can never be taken is our hope.  The Empire State Building was a beacon of hope during the Great Depression and it still is today.  It reminded me how much I love the city I grew up exploring and it gave me the joy of seeing my kids horizons broaden literally, right before my eyes.  Seeing that kind of joy is what hope is all about.  I took them to the Empire State Building because I made a promise.  I thought it was just for their benefit, I discovered it was more than just about a great view.  I learned about history, hope and how we can be renewed when we share something so life affirming with our kids.

We think we will show our kids about the world, but sometimes, we are the ones who need to see more clearly and the children are the ones most qualified to show us.


Keep your face to the sun and enjoy the view as all shadows fall behind.




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