Aquarium Christmas

Winter break last year was miserable. This year, we created a better itinerary to manage a preschooler bored by long days with his middle-aged parents. Last year, boredom (us and him) and sickness (also us and him) were excruciating. This year it will be different.

Our first change was a little trip to Boston to visit the NEAQ. I figured that we would have the aquarium to ourselves since it was so close to Christmas. I took Liev out of school a day early so we could spend two nights at the neighboring Marriott. Typically, Long Wharf is beyond our budget, but the combination of seasonality and remodeling knocked the price down to affordable. This discount tipped the scale for going to Boston. Why stay at an economical but remote Holiday Inn when my getting-lost time would be tripled by bonus Christmas traffic?

Our drive was minimally plagued by route recalculations and GPS echolalia. Good news, but the cold wind and new experience made Liev bawl as the doorman unloaded our luggage. The next hours were a jumble of whining, bossiness, and elevator rides, punctuated by malfunctioning electronics. I brought a portable DVD player since familiar programs lessen his anxiety. However, it could not be hooked up to the TV, which resulted in two service calls.

Liev objected to the intrusion so rudely I told the second repairman about Liev’s autism. He gave me a weary smile and said, “My daughter has it too. She’s eight now. It gets better over time.” Judging from his demeanor and grim survey of Liev, the unspoken part of our interchange was, “Why did you bring your son here to come unglued?” I guess my unspoken reply was, “Change of scenery, Buddy.”

Liev settled down after flinging a few DVDs across the room and eating a less than adequate lunch. Soon after, we went to the aquarium and had a blast. Despite the squirming and complaining, he appreciated the aquarium more than in the past.  The fish and penguins delighted him. Jabbering enthusiastically, he ran up and down the central spiral ramp, chirping, “Hi fishy! Look! They’re swimming!” He was so bright active and joyous; I chalked his previous fussing up to nerves. In an hour, he ran out of steam, but our trip was a definite success.

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