Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Father and Son Bonding, the Urban Version

Here's a tweet from me from the middle of yesterday: "early dismissal + gorgeous day = huang boys bike downtown for #1 & smoothie @ reading terminal mkt during my lunch." Indeed, the confluence of events just begged for some father-son bonding, city style. Aaron's school is right off a bridge that takes you right down the Ben Franklin Parkway into Center City, and minutes before his school closed down, I arrived and whisked him off for downtown adventures.

Though I am downtown all the time, I am only there with kids on weekends, and almost never there on bike. So it was a fresh experience. The bad news is it's not very bike-friendly: very narrow lanes, bike lanes that suddenly disappear, lots of one-way streets, and plenty of construction projects and parked trucks to make things even more fun.

No matter. We made a beeline for Reading Terminal Market, and I think Aaron enjoyed having a #1 and smoothie all to himself, without having to share with his big sister. A pit stop at Rite Aid seemed like an innocent errand along the way, but it became fraught with difficulty when there was no place to park our bike except to jam it in between bikes on a long bike rack near the University of Arts campus: I say "fraught" because I had to lift my heavy bike over, around, and through a sea of handle bars and U-locks and pedals, all of this over a steam grate (almost dropped my keys a couple of times!) while trying to keep an eye on Aaron lest he be snatched away in broad daylight on a busy street.

Soon enough, we were on our way to our next destination: a little alcove off South Broad where Blick Art Supply was making lots of fun items available to decorate your bike with, as part of the 11-day-long DesignPhiladelphia event. While Aaron took turns picking up rocks and then throwing them, I found the gaudiest colors and materials to further trick out my bike, not so much for aesthetic purposes as much as to deter a would-be thief who, if he or she made off with our ride, could not possibly avoid being stared at.

The ride home was tiring (made slightly funner by my first time on the dedicated bike lane on Spruce Street) but eventually we made it, had a quick snack, and Aaron was off to nap time and then TV time so I could get in another few hours of work at home before we had to go down the street to pick up Jada. Not sure how often the boys will get to do something fun like this just the two of us, but you can bet I'll take the opportunity if the stars align like they did yesterday: our tantrum boy was on his best behavior during our whole excursion, happy as he was to take in new sights and have a little guy time with his dad apart from the women in his life.
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