How to do New York City with Anxiety, Autism, and a Hurricane

I have to admit, the first time I visited New York City I didn't love it. It was the mid-nineties and I had driven up from Washington, D.C. with two of my friends. We were just going to stay a night. My friend told our married friend to leave her wedding ring behind because "people in New York will just rip it off your finger."

So I was already pretty scared of the big city before we even got there. We went to a nightclub where security personnel frisked us at the door and tore through our purses like a junkie looking for a fix. Being "Nebraska Nice" (seriously, that's our motto), I thanked her. She yanked me back and growled, "What did you say?"

"Thank you?" I repeated weakly, and she shoved me on into the club where my friends and I spent the rest of the time clinging to each other and hugging walls while watching transgender women cut in line for the bathroom.

I think we only stayed for 30 minutes before leaving and contemplating getting apple tattoos (thank god we didn't) and visiting the Statue of Liberty before we headed back to D.C.

Fast forward eight years. 9/11 had come and gone - but was still fresh in our minds - and Hubby and I were headed there with two babies in tow to spend two years of our lives in a place we'd never seen with no one we knew. I didn't want to go.

I ended up loving it.

Not actually Long Island where we lived - sorry Long Islanders - because there were lines and cars and people everywhere. And they were blunt and not very friendly, and I am a talker and I like to hold doors for people and tell them to have a nice day and everyone looked at me like I was crazy when I did that.

But Manhattan was different. People were cool and classy and super helpful when we were trying to get our double stroller up the steps at Penn Station. As I walked the route from Penn Station up Fifth Avenue past the Empire State building and Macy's, crisscrossing over to Broadway and Times Square and back over to Rockefeller Center and ending at Central Park, I felt like a native New Yorker. And I loved when people would visit us so I could show off my city skills.

Ten years later and here I am firmly entrenched back in my Midwestern life. I never had the opportunity to return to NYC, but I always wanted to. My two oldest boys have seen pictures of themselves as babies in New York, and I tell them stories all the time. They have been begging me to go back "someday."

Well, someday finally came last October, and I booked a trip for my two oldest boys and me to go on a "big boy" trip to the City. We were beyond excited. The only thing that could dampen our excitement was Hurricane Joaquin.

New York experienced one of the warmest and most beautiful Christmas Days ever, but the whole time we were there in October it was freezing cold and pouring rain. I was so disappointed, but the boys were troopers in their rain slickers and boots. We saw our former home on Long Island, the Statue of Liberty, Central Park, Times Square, Rockefeller Center, and the 9/11 Memorial and Museum in addition to eating great pizza and sweets from Serendipity.

Besides, the rain afforded us the opportunity to return to the hotel each night, snuggle in our king-sized bed, eat snacks, and watch old episodes of Full House. If it hadn't been for all the rain, it would have been the perfect trip.

Neither boy complained, and Knox actually got teary-eyed and sad the last night stating, "Mom, I don't think you're going to get me on the plane tomorrow. I just love New York so much." It was validation for all the weeks I spent worrying whether the boys would have fun.

I have to admit, I also worried A LOT about how Slim would handle the trip. He tends to wander away in crowds and is inappropriately social in many situations. I spent a lot of time coaching him on how he should act and respond to people. I was pretty sure I had it covered.

However, as is usually the case, he had it covered himself - by being himself. I'd love for you to read the rest of the story right here on She Knows. I'm proud to be sharing our story there, a story of how my son taught me a lesson rather than the other way around.

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