Exactly one year ago to the day, my brother-in-law, aka Brother Bear, decided to plan a nice getaway for my sister and himself. Knowing they’d need a babysitter for my nephew, and knowing we are the King and Queen of Responsibility, they asked Uncle Ryan and Auntie Meggie to look after little Mattman. Despite our busy lives and high demand for our babysitting skillz, we prioritized the nephew and said yes.
Prior to leaving, Caitlin was sure to clarify all the usual stuff about doctors, foods, and bedtime rituals. After asking if I had any questions, I inquired if the child was allowed to go to New York City. She said no. She did not, however, say we could not take him to, say, Baltimore and Philadelphia. And everyone knows that a no is basically a yes. So, when we missed the exit for the train into D.C. and saw signs for Baltimore, we took it as an omen to fill up on gas and start our journey. After all, things have really been looking up for Baltimore.
Given that we had planned none of this, Ryan was calmly multi-tasking researching all the sights we should be going to while navigating, while I calmly drove through heavy traffic while the child calmly sat quietly in the back seat. Due to both our penchant for food and the increasingly stressed-out toddler we had on our hands, we found ourselves at Lexington Market. Sadly, Mattman began complaining about ‘foot hurts’ so, to placate him, we did what any good babysitters would do: bought him ice cream and fed him some watermelon (the latter of which he then, rather unfortunately, dropped on the sizzling pavement. This caused many tears). After the market, we found an awesome water feature downtown that Mattman could walk around on and went down to the Inner Harbor (not the docks where the Sobotkas work).
Back in the car, Mattman again wailed ‘foot hurts, foot hurts’. Ryan, seemingly coming to his rescue, reached back to take off the child’s shoes and gave him some fruit snacks, since Mattman was undoubtedly still upset from losing his juicy watermelon. The combined solaces of removal of painful footwear and replacement of lost watermelon appeared to soothe the child. Now at this point in time, we were at a bit of a crossroads. You see, although we were some 2 hours from home, the day was still young! Rather than call it a day, we set our sights on our next destination: Philadelphia. Along the way, we were sure to stop at all the sweet landmarks. In case you were wondering, there aren’t really any between Baltimore and Philadelphia, so we settled for a rest stop in Nowhere, Delaware where we stocked up on coffee for the adults and tasty treats for the child. A hop, skip, and a jump later, we found ourselves in downtown Philly.
Since we had come so far (but not as far as NYC!), we couldn’t help but take Mattman to all the sights. He was still complaining about ‘foot hurts’ so at this point I again took off his shoes, put him in the stroller, and off we went to see the likes of Independence Hall and Ben Franklin’s gravesite. We also took time to snap the happy photo seen below of him in front of the Liberty Bell just so Mom and Dad wouldn’t feel like they missed out on his big adventure. After that, it was time for a Philly cheese steak (thus fulfilling one of Ryan’s bucket list items) and a quick drive around the Rocky steps while listening to the Rocky theme song in our heads before heading back to D.C.
Arriving back home around 12:30AM, I have to say we did an exceptional job of wearing Mattman out. People say it’s hard to get kids to sleep and they get moody and all that, but what we’ve found is that if you keep them in a perpetual state of confusion and tiredness, they pretty much fall asleep whenever and wherever you’d like. You can read more about our parenting philosophies in our upcoming book Parenting Advice from Non-Parents.
Overall, I’d have to say Mattman’s favorite part of the entire adventure was the truck stop in Nowhere, Delaware. Not much to see beyond a bunch of Asian tourists and a giant parking lot, but now he can say he’s been to Delaware. Twice. You can thank us for expanding your child’s horizons later, Caitlin and Bro Bear.
P.S. Two days later, while preparing for another adventure – this time in D.C. – and packing a diaper bag for Mattman with some Annie’s fruit snacks, he pointed to them, said ‘foot hurts’ and then happily proceeded to eat them. So yes, apparently in Mattman speak ‘foot hurts’ = ‘fruit snacks’. Learn to speak English, ya Jabroni.