Archive for the 'Going Out' Category

Imagination Beatdown: Imagination Playground Review, South Street Seaport

 

SuperDuperDad is not known for beating around the bush, nor for pulling punches.

Like most NYC parents my time is valuable (more valuable than YOURS, you lolly-gagging, single youngsters and ye’ slothful childless middle-aged-sters!) And as I’ve written previously, one must measure each activities’ worth in relation to time, money and energy expended for it’s fulfillment.

You can see where I’m heading here…

The, um, "breakthrough playspace..."

Between the $20 for parking and the time to hike out to Southstreet Seaport, the much lauded artsy-fartsy playspot Imagination Playground comes up a bust.

(YES of course I realize driving to this ‘hood is sheer insanity but I’d been convinced by SuperDuperGramps to shove our bikes in the car and make the trip on the way to the UES to meet up for some Central Park biking, a damn good reason to give up a Brooklyn parking spot.)

Firstly, despite the creator’s pretentious musings about designing a playground that contains “three core concepts that foster a dynamic, child-centered environment,” it’s still basically just some soft building blocks, fountains, net crawls and ummm… well that’s about it. There’s also some elaborate pully-system-ed sand-carrier that kind of falls flat and one of those walkie-talkie microphone thing-a-ma-bobs which I could not quite figure out.

Further eroding the potential for fun, the park is staffed with earnest, friendly, well-meaning college-student types (Ooooh, I’m sorry, “Play Associates” according to the website) who are ready to extinguish the sometimes rowdy flame of fun that can ignite during standard childs’ play.

As can only happen to SuperDuperDad, one young woman approached me after I knocked down several large building blocks while engaging SuperDuperKid in a mock battle for Imagination Park Supremacy.

“Umm… we’re umm… trying to keep the kids open to building and creating, not umm, destroying… so like, um… you know…”

“I gotcha,” I said, in no mood to tangle with this creature of awkward kindness who nonetheless saw fit to kill any sign of reckless fun the second it reared its joyful head.

And despite what multiple websites claim, bringing a kid here who is over nine is pushing it, indeed. It’s undoubtedly best for the toddler set.

It should be noted that although I’d like to think of myself as an expert on what intrigues the youngsters, one bespectacled 11 year old, perhaps sensing my distaste, quickly stated that the I.P was one of his favorite-est places.

“Why?” I pressed.

“Because, um, it has my favorite things to do…” he stammered, wandering off in mid-thought.

I wondered if perhaps he needed to get out of the Bronx a bit more.

Here though, I must touch on a point I’ve made in multiple writings past: Kids have an endless and insatiable sense of wonder which any resourceful parent can tap at will. I always believe that myself and SDK can have a great time anywhere we go, be it a Ukrainian gulag or the DMV.

So don’t get me wrong…

The I.P is after all a playground, no matter what pretensions adults attempt to heap upon it. Sprinklers transcend any and all circumstances and if your kid can’t have fun in the water, you best rush them to the child psych ward ASAP.

If you’re in the area checking out the fantastic Bodies exhibit (fascinating for kids, if a tad graphic) or enjoying one of the splendid beer sampler packages at Heartland Brewery, then by all means treat the lil’ ones and pop into the I.P.

Otherwise stick with the Imagination Playground in your head.
Parking is always free there!

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:   Nay, thanks.

Details:   Although it’s possible, avoid driving at all costs. Even for a master like SDD it’s a challenge. Parking for an hour or so will be $20-25 in local lots.

HOURS:
monday- friday 10:00am – 6:00pm
saturday & sunday 9:00am – 6:30pm

burling slip

South, John & Front Streets
Google Map

parking

Limited metered parking will be available — several garages are located on nearby Pearl Street.

subway

SubwayFulton St/Broadway-Nassau Station

When you exit the subway walk east on Fulton Street and then turn right for one block on South Street. Imagination Playground at Burling Slip will be on your right.

 

Guardians of Your Imagination

New York, Go Swimming! NYC Public Pools Review

JUNE 26, 2013 UPDATE! Yes, ALL pools open tomorrow including McCarren Park Pool. They are free for all and you don’t even need I.D to visit them (just a padlock and a bathing suit!) Read further for a link to all NYC public pools and more info…

 

In a city where the relentless wheel of gentrification seems to tirelessly and remorselessly roll on, its public pools are an especially welcome relief.

Open for business on June 29 (must be a budget thing since lord knows they’d have been welcome weeks if not months ago), they’re just one great freebie in a town that does more for its non-yuppie population than some might realize.

Open from 11am-7pm daily, the pools all have strict, draconian rules that one MUST abide by if they wish to participate (no cell phones or other electronics on deck and mandatory possession of a padlock are the two biggest) and they close from 3-4pm each day for cleaning. Basically, that’s all you need to know.

A comprehensive list of the cities’ pools, conveniently listed by borough,  has a phone number for each so if you’re a lap swimmer you may want to call ahead and get the times when it’s roped off for lapping. At any other time you will find swimming around the masses of frolicking kids and their moms a tad challenging, if possible at all.

Who frequents the pools? Well, it’s worth noting that the first two weekdays I arrived I was the only cracker in the vicinity, with the exception of a lifeguard. This changed my first weekend day but generally Whitey is in the minority here, even at the UES pool discussed below.

Some may take offense at me mentioning this but it’s a concrete detail, a real aspect of the pool and its environment and something that may make the sensitive or panty-waisted uncomfortable, just as one might be if the other swimmers were all Orthodox Jews or Hispanic. It’s basic human nature: We feel vulnerable and self-conscious when we’re different from everyone else. This of course doesn’t bother SuperDuperDad in the slightest, since he is an intrepid explorer and courageous adventurer, but hey, you might be a complete wimpster.

I’ve been to several of the city’s free and open public pools but the one I’m referring to is in Commodore Barry Park, which is between Flushing and Park Ave. in Clinton Hill, and the one now closest to my apartment.

In the past I’ve enjoyed the Red Hook Recreation Area pool, a giant sprawling city block of a space where, according to the city’s website, legendary gangster Al Capone began his career. Having to get in the car and hit the forever traffic-snarled BQE was always a con, but since I was dating a barista at the deeply missed Lonelyville Cafe in Park Slope, I was in the area fairly frequently anyway.

Nestled on the Upper East Side mere feet from my Dad’s apartment and the FDR, John Jay Park’s got a superb albeit smaller pool, plus a swell park with sandbox adjoining it. The diving board also adds tremendous fun.

As for Commodore Barry Park…

Well, when it comes to pools, proximity is the number one draw in my book and the CBP is perfectly placed at the 2 mile mark of my running route. Actually, true perfection would be if it were at the END of my run but since it’s about 2 miles from the SuperDuperDad Manor, where I of course like to end up, that would be difficult to achieve.

So on a scalding broiler like today I’ll hit the first 2 miles hard, knock out 3 sets of pull-ups in the small park on the way before diving into pure refreshment in the cool waters. On the way back I’ll often pop into Fresh Fanatic for an omelette and a superb Stumptown iced coffee before sauntering home, thoughtful and relaxed.

Today, as I trotted back across Park Avenue heading home, one of the hulking storage facilities on the block suddenly cast a shade over me and a soft breeze carried a touch of perfume, suddenly engulfing me in the reverie of a memory of a girl long gone. The breeze, the sun… all was just right and as I re-entered the land of Hasidim children with their cascading curls, staring at me as if I were an alien as I stretched my calves against a lamppost, I had to laugh.

I’ll always be an outcast. But if anyplace makes an outcast feel at home, it’s NYC.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  Free swimming?! Whaddaya think, dude?!

Details:  DON’T FORGET PADLOCK. And carrying it in plain sight helps facilitate entrance. Also don’t forget that all pools close from 3-4pm for cleaning. It IS possible to smuggle your phone in but if spotted you will be asked to leave.

Fried Twinkies and Beer: Atlantic Chipshop Review, Cobble Hill

Parking in Cobble Hill is a BITCH.

Mind you, that’s coming from a man who can SMELL some youthful yuppie with perfect hair just start THINKING about looking for his car keys so he can pop outside, saunter over to his beige (eh?) Volvo and gently edge it out into the day, with SuperDuperDad, KING of the blood sport that is New York Parking lurking mere inches behind him, waiting to snatch his prey out of the jaws of defeat, aka an irritable soccer mom who somehow thinks she’s more deserving of the space that I rightfully earned from years of honing my mental powers into an almost Jedi-like ability to sense a spot that is about to be vacated.

Uh, anyway, after securing the prize (it was actually a black dude with short, neat dreads pulling out in some sort of baby SUV- apologies from my stereotyping imagination to you, Cob Hill) we popped into the catchily-named UA Court Street Stadium 12 to check out the new Thor movie.

WOW. Maybe it’s because we don’t have television but SuperDuperKid and I were simply dazzled by the trailers leading up to the main feature. Green Lantern and the new X-Men looked cool as hell but even those paled in comparison to the thrill-inducing, action-packed trailer for Immortals, coming 11/11/2011. On the big screen, it was dripping with awe-inducing battle clips and feats of wonder. SDK and I shall be waiting in line with baited breath on opening day, no doubt.

Thor itself was pretty OK, too. Unsurprisingly, it devolved into formulaic tripe but not before delivering some percolating action scenes and tasty visuals.

We stopped at one of the small parks off Henry St. on our way back to the car.

Interestingly, SDK didn’t seem to gel with his Cobble Hill brethren. Was there a snootiness, a glossier sheen, a lack of the rough-hewn edges of WIlliamsburg kids to which he couldn’t relate? Or maybe, like my parking-related rant at the intro, I was displacing some of my own stereotypes? Maybe he just wasn’t in the mood.

He WAS suddenly hungry out of nowhere, however, in the way only a kid can be.

I’d spotted the Atlantic Chipshop on our walk back and thought it sounded perfect.

I was right!

Cor Blimey that's good!

Besides your classic British fish n’ chips, (or fries, as we Yanks call them), this Ol’ Blighty-themed pub/restaurant has a kids menu featuring mac n’ cheese and chicken fingers. The adult fare is equally decadent. With a large selection of beers on tap amidst the deep-fried fish or (gasp) pizza, this is not the place for us namby-pamby health conscious eaters, no sir-ee-BOB.

But where the AC really hits its stride (and starts to pummel your heart and arteries) is with their indulgent desserts. Fried Mars Bars, Snickers and ANYTHING else you can drag in join the mouth-watering fried Twinkie we had from the must-try dessert menu.

Yes, you bring it in, the Atlantic Chipshop will fry it, hence the rowdy bunch behind us with a shopping bag overflowing with Oreos.

The Brit-styled rock theme adds curious fun with SDK wondering aloud who the Stiff Little Fingers were and the both of us musing over classic photos of the Beatles and the Who.

A great place for kids and adults alike, go to the Atlantic Chipshop and you’ll end up “sorted, mate” as da Yoof of the UK used to say, although that of course was drug parlance and may not go over well in the context of Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. As a former London dweller, however, I can assure you it went over fine in the mean streets of South Tottenham and Walthamstow.

You too can get sorted at the Atlantic Chipshop, mate. Just try and have a brisk jog home punctuated with thirty-forty minutes of pick up soccer afterwords. It’s the right thing to do.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  YAY,  as long as you eat healthily the next day, fatso!

Details:  As stated, be aware that parking can be challenging. Also, for extra fun bring something crazy of your own to have fried!

The Atlantic Chipshop

129 Atlantic Ave

(between Clinton St & Henry St)

Brooklyn, NY 11201

Neighborhoods: Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights

(718) 855-7774

www.chipshopnyc.com

Hours:

Mon-Thu 11:30 am – 12 am

Fri 11:30 am – 2 am

Sat 11 am – 2 am

Sun 11 am – 12 am

Good for Groups: Yes

Accepts Credit Cards: Yes

Parking: Street

Attire: Casual

Wheelchair accessible with full bar!

Pay Up: Journey to the Heart of Red Bulls Arena

Do you REALLY want to go all the way out to Red Bull Arena over in Bumfuck aka Harrison,NJ? And yes pretty much ALL of Jersey is Bumfuck (except possibly Hoboken, aka Yuppie Hell wth the exception of our beloved Maxwells where as a drunken, passion-filled youth I watched a drunken passion-filled Paul Westerberg of the Replacements swagger out gallons of sweat straight from HIS GODDAMN HEART…) and no, any other area of the Dirty Jerz is too dang far away to be cool so forget Red Hook or what have you.

Worth leaving Brooklyn for?

So really, when you think about it, the act of Leaving NY is quite a sizable litmus test to pass, in itself.

I mean, family gatherings, camping trips, the airport… there’s many perfectly acceptable reasons to cross a bridge or hop a train but unless the payback is deep and true… well myself and SuperDuperKid may have to pass. There’s just too damn much to do HERE.

SO…

Again, I ask, do you REALLY want to go to the Red Bull Arena?

Well, how much do you love soccer?

Because, you see, life is payment. And we pay in time, among other commodities.

So your payment for getting to the RBA is a 16-30 minute JMZ ride to the PATH train at 14th followed by a 40 minute or so ride to the Arena with a quick, cow-herd shuffle out the exit about four blocks to the stadium after which comes the short-lived but admittedly thrilling pizazz of stepping out the labyrinthine innards of the complex, where suddenly the sky opens up and the crowd is roaring and you can practically reach out and touch the excitement, so palpable and in your face it is until you suddenly find yourself in a loooooong sprawling line of equally deflated consumers waiting for a $4 hot dog and $7 cup of watery Coors to be served by weary, walking ads against over-eating and under-planning; living, breathing billboards against consumption of the very products you’re battling them to procure and by the time you get back to your seats your kid is gettting tired and Daaaaaad he wants to go home ’cause… ummm… well unless Pele, Beckham and errrm, well thats all we know, are out there performing stratospheric acts of gravity-defying genius with the crowd-pleasing showmanship of say, a Jordan or Ali… Well, soccer just ain’t all that to watch. And although that’s coming from a guy who admittedly was a life-long punk, a teenage counter-culture pipsqueak who gobbled up Abby Hoffman and Tom Robbins’ books, scoffed down Dylan, Clash and Husker Du albums, who spiked his hair and sneered at button-down jocks through the entirety of his high school career, he also eventually grew to identify and empathize with any man locked in mortal struggle, lunging forward with every spec of burning desire in his body to just, only, even if this once and never ever again…WIN!

Can't wait until I grow up and experience watery Coors...

So yeah I can appreciate sports and my kid LOVES soccer and in fact it was a momentous day marking SDK’s first ever goal (!), a major occasion for any kid, but nonetheless live soccer in is a different matter altogether. This particular game was not exactly a thrill-a-minute rev-em-up blowout and so the limited attention spans of many of the kids’ present  began to drift after the first twenty minutes or so.

So exhausted was the lad after the long journey back on the PATH that by the time we hit 14th street we had to grab a cab made even more pricey by my driver’s odd choice of route, cruising down 6th avenue all the way to Grand St to the Williamsburg Bridge, an inexplicable bypassing of the superior Houston St. method, in my opinion. The entertainment provided by his bizarre self-mumbling was little consolation.

How about the ol’ SuperDuperDad-mobile, I hear the peanut gallery wonder?

Tried it. Took that trip the previous year and traffic out the city to Harrison was not pretty but a walk in the freakin’ park compared to the patience-pummeling gridlock that one faces in the twisting, endless snake-like maze of the parking garage that empties in slow, syrup-like dribs and drabs at the game’s end.

Check the website for full ticket price. As part of the GWYSL, myself and the dozens of other parents who attended got a block discount but for ya’ll civilians you’re lookin at at least a triple-Hamilton beat-down for some nose-bleeders once those villianous fees are added in. And thats without the inevitable food and transport costs.

But as many of us know there are some things in life that justify their cost.

Hell, I dropped $400 on third row tickets for SDK and I to see Prince at the Garden not long ago. So, maybe live soccer is worth the cost for you.

Me? I’ll stick with Rasberry Beret and the L train.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  It’s yer funeral, pal.

Details:  Parking at one of those ginormous complexes a couple blocks from the stadium is $7 – 10 but when all is said and done, train is easier/better experience since as stated in review it takes a LONG-ASS time to get your car out in the end. That said, it is apparently possible to find parking on the surrounding streets, as our (undefeated, hrmph) soccer coach did.  The PATH train though is still your best bet and is easily accessible from the 33rd St and 14th St subway stops in the city, among others. Games start on time. Get food/beer EARLY or be ready for the lines. Website states that a “modest” amount of outside food is allowed in as are water bottles though they remove your cap before entry for some reason. Check website FAQ for more.

Escape from Alcatraz... Whoops, I mean, Red Bull Arena!

Smorgasbord in Smorgasburg + East River State Park review

A foodies’ paradise…

 

*August 2013 Update*

Smorgasburg has grown exponentially since this review. It’s a pretty awesome food-related experience. GO!

 

It was Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn, NY and so came another triumph for the Mutant Gorillas, my son’s youth league soccer team. They are undefeated so far this year, a tad bittersweet for me since when SuperDuperDad was coach last season we were ummm… what’s the opposite of undefeated?

Eh, anyway, after his game we decided to follow his grandmother and step-granpa’s NY Times procured-advice and visit the newly opened Smorgasburg, a giant outdoor greenmarket/gourmet food emporium happening every Saturday in Williamsburg, down by that industrial graveyard-cum-condoville/park sprawl by the water. They had come all the way from the Upper East Side to see his game, so we wanted to be accommodating.

Not too many surprises here. In gentrified Brooklyn, top notch morsels are par for the course. Vietnamese crepes, organic grilled-cheeses, whole grain mustards, world famous gazpacho, hand-pulled mozzarella and even Harvard-educated organic lobsters (Okay, I made up the last one)…  Jeez, I tell ya. This goddamn food has accomplished more in its short life span than I have, and it’s probably earning more too. Basically, anything edible you can dream of is here, mostly being cooked before your eyes in the rows and rows of dainty lil’ stalls that the vendors occupy. And it’s all done with the skill and sophistication that one expects in NYC.

SuperDuperKid’s grilled-cheese sandwich from the good people at Milk Truck was a bit too “uptown for the tots” as Sideshow Bob once famously declared on the Simpsons, with the complex blend of cheeses leaving his simplistic taste buds overwhelmed. The vanilla milkshake, however, was obliterated in seconds as we sat on a bench in the sprawling promenade, admiring the gleaming, new condos and dreaming of a day when we could afford one.

My mom asked SDK about his mother being pregnant…

How was it going? Was he excited?

Now I was not here for this but she claims he seemed uncomfortable with the subject. “Something,” she said, leaning forward and taking on her Tone of Great Importance, “is bothering him about it.”

I shall leave my in depth look at some of these issues until later for my soon to be launched “personal” category on SuperDuperDad.com, but suffice it to say there’s always some drama going on with the Baby Mama, whom I am no longer with. We left in agreement that the concept of his mother’s pregnancy needed to be brought up with him again soon in the future and discussed more openly.

East River Park’ll make ya… Jump! Jump!

It was too nice a day for such dealings and we decided to hoof it a few blocks over to East River State Park. Oddly barren, but with a beautiful view of the water and some refreshingly unique playground fixtures, it’s definitely worth a visit.

There’s a giant two-kid see-saw styled rope hang that the lil’ ones find simply fascinating plus some interesting bouncy spring-boards and choo-choo train contraptions good for playing tag on. Info-boards line the walk to the water so one can learn about the area’s intriguing industrial history. In place of boat and train shipments with coal and other minerals, we now have kids, condos and bearded bicyclists of all shapes and sizes. And so time marches on for Brooklyn.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  Eh, I could go either way, honestly. If you’re a foodie, you’ll be in friggin’ paradise. Park is fun but don’t sell your kidney to get there or anything.

Details:  C’mon… I can’t do ALL the work for ya! But YES for those asking it’s not too difficult to park outside along Kent Ave. Parking smack dab on N8th st. is a bit more challenging but Kent is close enough anyhow. It’s also about a 15 minute walk from the Bedford L stop.

Brooklyn, Jump off a Building: SLAM/STREB Review

Do these kids sense an oncoming shift in the cultural paradigm?!

Williamsburg, Brooklyn is far too cool for mere “dance” classes.

Ditto for your standard gym or acrobatics lessons.

Enter Streb Lab For Action Mechanics aka SLAM aka STREB aka a pretty damn awesome dance/acrobatics/trapeze spot for athletic folks of all ages. It’s the invention of Elizabeth Streb, a female Lou Reed look-alike who in fact embodies quite a bit of that same edgy NYC art-punk ethos. Unlike Lou, however, she has taken an industrial warehouse space by Billburg’s waterfront and created a hip scene centered on her forward thinking, avante-garde dance principles.

So what exactly happens at STREB?

Humans fly through the air from rocket-propelled springboards, flip over, under and around a perilously spinning ladder mounted on a ferris wheel-like axle, hurl themselves at breakneck speeds into clear slabs of plastic just inches from your face and leap again and again off 30, 40, and 50 foot high precipices, smacking satisfyingly onto glacier-thick mats. These are just some of the many scenes one can witness at one of their joyous and high-energy public performances.

It’s all done to spooky, funky audio and visuals, adding up to a kind of spectacle you haven’t quite seen before, one that values fun and experimentation as much as it does physical rigor and activity.

Even home improvement is fun and inventive at STREB!

Ms. Streb’s open-minded approach doesn’t stop with the actual dance routine’s either. Her talk of creating a new “cultural paradigm” extends even to the companies most basic policies. For example, the space is never closed to the public and, aside from the infrequent paid shows, anyone can pop in to watch classes or rehearsals at any time during working hours.

Things move fast at S.L.A.M...

The shows themselves are also pretty open-ended with plenty of whooping and hollering and general encouragement for the audience to have fun too. And the KIDACTION classes follow suit. SuperDuperKid has taken part on and off for years and just plain loves ’em. I’ve barely parked the SuperDuperDad-Mobile before he’s bolting from the back, shaking free his socks and sneakers to frolic with his friends on the giant mats laid out invitingly all over the space. His classes are every Thursday, and serve as a perfect avenue for him to let loose some post-school energy. Right as they end, the space starts filling with attractive young(ish) adults who take more advanced classes, each seemingly ready to shake off the stress accumulated from cubicles and offices throughout the day.

All rates and information are listed below as well as on the STREB website. At about $325 for 16 weekly hour-long sessions it’s pretty reasonable. The performances are also definitely worth catching, especially if you’ve never seen one before. It’s packed with energy, fun and plenty of visceral thrills, a true Brooklyn experience.

Official SuperDuperDad Yay or Nay Verdict:  YAY!

Details: STREB is incredibly approachable in every way so feel free to simply pop in and check it out. You can ask an instructor questions to gauge the best class for yourself of your child.

Kid Class Info:

KID ACTION + KID FLY

KID ACTION reflects the high energy, fast-paced movement that kids experience all around them everyday, and this is why Elizabeth Streb’s work is of particular interest to young people, who are continually testing the limits of their physical universe. Based on the principles of POPACTION, young action engineers will be intrigued by the vigorous exploration of impact, velocity and the defiance of gravity through a combination of physical conditioning, daredevil stunts action, acrobatics and aerial arts.

KID FLY invites kids 5 and up to come develop their Flying Trapeze skills. All participants are evaluated individually, and are taught at their own pace by our trained instructors. For more experienced flyers, the ESPANA-STREB TRAPEZE ACADEMY allows you to work more intensively on specific tricks to master the ones you know, and learn the ones you dream of doing. Our team of instructors can help you achieve class goals by giving you tips and techniques to improve your form and personal style. The instructors have varied backgrounds but all are focused on safety and ensuring the students have a great experience.

Spring Class rates (now past, but give you a good idea.)

 Each class has 16 sessions.

Baby Action & Kid Action: $325
Tuesday Advanced: $325
Friday Advanced: $424

Kid Company: $456
Trampoline: $430
Kid Fly:$430
Kid Fly Team:$556

Drop-In’s: $11 per class with enrollment in any class or $21 per class for KidAction class and $26 for KidFly class for non-registered students.

A deposit of $150 is required to hold your child’s place.
10% discount on two or more classes per family.
For more information about classes, contact education@streb.org or

The Deadly Mission of Gen. Quasar vs. the Fresh Fanatic & the Five Borough Bike Tour

………………………………………………………………………………………………

It was hopeless. He was gone for good.

I watched his lifeless, broken body lie motionless, a good fifty feet below us.

He’d paid the price for his carelessness and now it was up to us to extricate him – literally- from the life threatening jaws of defeat he was now locked in.

But how? The only tools at our disposable were a couple lines of string, a small fish hook, a magnet and some half-chewed Trident.

Amazingly, despite the failure of our initial scheme, my son’s out of the box thinking yielded the triumphant plan of snagging not the injured soldier but the entire wormhole he was trapped in (AKA our laundry basket) with multiple ropes and gradually hauling him up to the safety of the planet surface (the top of his bunk bed.) General Quasar lived to see another day and we were heroes, Saviors of the Universe.

You'll live, General Quasar...

So ended one of our patented, fun and fantasy-filled Lego Missions.

Some parents can’t shut it all off and submerge in this world of make-believe as they used to. Not SuperDuperDad. In fact, some might argue it’s my forte.

Before one of these “missions” I will often hide some injured troops, write up some garbled secret code (for SDK to painstakingly decipher) and lay out a general storyline.

Sounds ridiculous, no? But man, does the little guy love every second, including the many minutes of preparation as we build our spacecraft, hone battle skills and test weapons systems in advance of these critically important voyages.

The other day, SDK was more than mildly disappointed when we had to postpone a mission we’d been building up to since the previous night. Basically, Jaba the Hutt had to be transported in a small convoy of ships to the ummm… National Justice Association for Re-Education and there were quite a few spies and other unsavory types casing out the prep site and… well, anyway despite all our preparation the night before we awoke to a gorgeous Sunday afternoon and I decided we should hop on the turbo-cycles (bikes to you mortals) and I would finally show him my running route.

Despite his whiny declarations of hunger, we soon arrived at one of those oddly quiet stretches of road where Williamsburg meets the water to find police cars and barricades. We were mildly confused. But what luck! I’d forgotten it was the day of the Five Borough Bike Tour.

They're a comin' ...

After watching the first wave of cyclists careen past, we joined the hopped-up throng and biked a mile or so until we hungrily circled back towards Fresh Fanatic, that bastion of luxurious gentrification on otherwise still-grimy Atlantic Ave. This vast market/café has pretty much everything any discriminating gourmand could ask for, from organic dried fruit snacks and Gimme Coffee to a whole host of all-natural synthetics! (Haha… OK I made that last one up.)

Fresh Fanatic: Just choosing what water you want is exhausting...

SDK’s bagel with egg, cheese and bacon was big, thick and satisfyingly greasy, a man-sized meal indeed. (I was too busy working through my extended Passover no-carb-o-thon to try it, sadly.) My omelette was also quite good though the real winner was the excellent iced coffee, made from superb Stumptown beans. It was far darker and richer than I’d thought it would be, coming off the downtrodden sidewalks of Atlantic. Afterwards we headed over to the pleasingly sprawling Commodore Barry Park to play some handball, soccer and to time each other’s best seventy-yard dash.

It was a beautiful day with a not-too-blazing sun and a cool breeze balancing each other out perfectly. Between activities we sat motionless, reflrecting for several minutes at a time, just soaking in the quiet interspersed with the sound of the endless bikers whizzing past.

All in all, it was a superb Sunday morning. I was reminded again, as I have been so many times about the resilience of a child’s sense of fun and curiosity. You don’t need to plan a major interstellar mission, spend sixty-five bucks on Broadway tickets or travel two and a half hours to the ocean to make a kid smile and enjoy himself. Children have a built in sense of joy and fun ready to be activated in them at any time. Up to that nine or ten year old level in particular, they can find anything and everything fascinating, especially when it’s presented in the right way.

It’s my belief that this ability is somehow part of the natural order of things, the same way that a baby is made so damn cute that we have no choice but to nurture and take care of it despite it’s exhausting needs and requirements. This built-in ability to be entertained and involved is what makes kids so easy to raise, to invent with, to entertain, time and time again. And they give back as much as we give to them when we’re reminded to explore, imagine and be kids again ourselves.



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