Friday, June 7, 2013


Coveting Legos in Alexanderplatz.
100 meters. It can be challenging for a heavily padded, helmeted, 300-pound linebacker to move a ball that far. It must be excruciatingly difficult for an amputee to even think about walking that distance during the initial stages of rehabilitation. To an insect, it’s like crossing continents. And to two women with three 5/almost 5 year-olds and two toddlers its all of these things: challenging, excruciatingly difficult and just really, really far.

100 meters was the distance from our apartment, which we rented through airbnb, to the subway, our gateway to the rest of Berlin. But these 100 meters felt a little bit like hiking through a minefield in the Alps while simultaneously commanding two opposing armies comprised entirely of deaf and blind soldiers. There were constant fights over who got to push the button on the elevator! Who gets to put the money in the machine! Who gets to pull the ticket out of the machine! Who gets to validate the ticket! There was a constant race to be first – first to finish my pizza! First to get to the door and therefore earn the right to hold it open! First to finish peeing! First to wake up! There was the incessant measuring for fairness – he got more ice cream than I did! She got to hold the ipad last time! He got to go down the slide twice and I only did it once!

At one point when we had completely HAD it with the fighting, Ash and I declared NO ONE could push the button. It was the ADULTS TURN! And then before she could do it, I pushed her out of the way and ran for the button only to have her try to trip me so of course I had to put her in a headlock and when she bit me the whole thing dissolved into a slapping match that left us both black and blue and bleeding.*

I mean, where do the kids get this shit?

We made it to our spacious, minimal-decoration-=-less-to-break, apartment after our 100 meter journey that involved one poop in the park, one run-in with a drunk, a few narrowly avoided collisions on the bike path, one near foot amputation via street car, one very dumb illegal street crossing (adults take the blame for this one. Ok – I take the blame for this one.), one ten-minute pause to ogle a large billboard with cows walking by a nuclear reactor-size tub of chocolate ice cream, 15 minutes to pick dandelions growing next to the drunks and the poop, one adult-kid confrontation over whether or not they could go to the park RIGHT NOW before dropping off the heavy bags the moms were carrying, one five-minute break to stop and admire the “Starlight Express” poster in which every kid picked out their favorite costume and all declared that the girl on the top of the cake-like structure was the “chief of the poisonous ones” and was definitely the biggest badass. We picked up the keys from the owner, trudged up three flights of stairs and just – arrived.

This is where my mom says, "What kind of crackhouse playground are you taking my grandchildren to anyway?"
After the promised trip to the playground, we attempted to go to Friedrichshain to find the “spielwagon” that a friend of mine told me about – a large truck that drives around to different playgrounds, scheduled on different days, and unloads games and an obstacle course. My incompetence with Google Maps meant that we made a full ring around the intersection at Frankfurter Tor on the gorgeous Karl-Marx-Allee. When I finally got my bearings, the kids discovered … jugglers. And that was as far as we got. Spielwagon be damned, these guys had the kids mesmerized. I need to find some jugglers to move in with us.

The next day we had an agenda: an early start, a ride on the double decker bus to see a bit more of the city in a way that the kids would find entertaining, lunch in Mitte, a playdate with Luisa and Hugo and end up at the Street Food Market Hall in Kreuzberg.

The early start was the first casualty of the day. Thwarted by a snack and pee break that last two hours – BEFORE getting on the subway. The double decker bus was a hit for the first 20 minutes. Then they got restless. We got off around Zoo Station/Kudamm just minutes before Linnea’s head started to rotate and Henry alienated us from not only the entire front of the bus but the driver, who bellowed into the mic, “SOMEONE MAKE THOSE KIDS SIT DOWN – NOW!!!” That was our cue to get off.
The Lebanese Balloon Twister - available for hire.
Spilled currywurst, the Lebanese balloon-twister and a two-story fountain later, we abandoned our ambitious agenda and headed for a playground. That night the kids were asleep by 7:30 and Ash and I headed out – God bless my friend’s daughter, Chiara. In Friedrichshein – staying close by in case the babysitter called in a panic – what we thought was live music was a public viewing of Heidi Klum’s Germany’s Next Top Model grand finale and we grabbed a drink at the bar, packed with girls who made me feel old and gay boys, as I explained to Ash who the favorite was, who was the girl who always cried, who was the one Heidi picked up in a chicken coop and who was the one who everyone just generally disliked. It was the most culture Ash would experience in Berlin. I am a fine, fine tour guide.

The next day, we scrapped our museum plans and took the 12:30 train back to Hamburg. And to think I had originally thought we would then take a train from Berlin to Prague (4.5 hours) and then another local (3 hours) on to Cesky Krumlov in southern Bohemia. I can chalk that idea up to temporary insanity. Or a bottle of wine. More than likely the latter.

And the moral of this blog post is: travel with your kids, y’all. If you are visiting a city, try to balance cultural events and historic tours with playgrounds, trampolines, ice cream and jugglers. It’s not easy. And you definitely won’t see or do all of the things on your list. But it is worth it. Absolutely… At least that’s what they tell me.

*The adult fight did not actually happen. I know, I know, it is totally plausible. But Ash and I are beacons of maturity, pillars of restraint.


  1. Love it!
    And thanks for inspiring us to take our kids other than "kid places."

  2. M E N T A L. Top marks for trying and then sharing. Loved it.