Friday, July 08, 2011

Thwarting Summer Subway Pests

Having lived in NYC for a significant chunk of time, I've had my share of intense subway experiences. But nothing at all prepared me for traveling the trains with The Kid. A little girl on the subway is a magnet for all layers of unpleasant behavior unfurled. I'm hardly the only one -- nearly every mother I know in the city with a daughter has their own story to tell. None of them pleasant. (and few unique to NYC.) However, there are ways to thwart at least some of this unwanted attention. For those who live here, or those thinking of visiting, here are my rules cultivated over the past 8 years:

* No dresses or skirts on the subway. Sorry, I know that's uncool but so is your 5-year-old playing peak a boo with her hemline and flashing her Thursday underwear at the character across from you. Shorts and pants. Shorts and pants.

* When someone starts to hop seats, positioning themselves directly across from you, with a newspaper perfectly poised in the lap, move. Or pull your taser and stare them right in the eye. Which brings us to...

*Your daughter is usually oblivious to unwanted attention while singing a Selena Gomez song to herself. But adults know you're aware. Staring right back at them is apt to shift eyes away.

*On the subway platform, while traveling with your kid solo, the only person who needs an answer is another mom asking for directions. Not the 33-year-old telling you that your daughter is stunning. Play the rude New Yorker. (An invaluable character in your tool belt anyway.)

* Play Golden Girls and hit someone with your big purse/diaper bag. It worked for Estelle Getty and no one's going to argue with a mom cranked on adrenaline. Not even New York's cops. Try it.

All else fails? Take the bus. Yes, it will take half the day to get there. But somehow, in the sunlight, all seems safer.

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