Family life

Our Family Day shenanigans

Tracy's family went underground, then soared to great heights this February long weekend

By Tracy Chappell
Our Family Day shenanigans

My girls with a reasonable facsimile of the CN Tower (before we soared up to the real thing)

Family Day is relatively new in Ontario, so it always sort of sneaks up on me. Suddenly, I start hearing “What are you doing for Family Day?” and I think, “Hmmm ...What are we doing for Family Day?”
This year we decided to head downtown. The kids are now at the age that we could wander around and enjoy some Toronto attractions without it being so high-maintenance. But what to choose? Every museum, attraction — every street — seemed to have something fabulous going on.
Anna has always had this thing about the CN Tower. She talks about what it would be like to go up that high in the sky and why can’t she go there? When, Mommy, when? We always think about taking them, but something comes up. Especially in the winter, because of hockey/skating on the weekends, it’s tough to tackle a downtown attraction without the kids already being exhausted before we begin. So Family Day was the perfect time.
And it was perfect — well, you know, there were fights over Goldfish crackers and kids too excited to listen, but they did pretty well. Anna loved walking on the glass floor (Avery was a little nervous, but did lie down on the glass for a few seconds for a photo) and the elevator ride up was so cool. Afterwards, we hit The Old Spaghetti Factory, a Toronto landmark that has a genuine old streetcar inside the restaurant. Our kids were much more interested in that train than spaghetti and meatballs (we thought the food was just OK, but the ambiance is terrific — a great, family-friendly spot).
But the highlight of the day wasn’t actually the world’s third largest free-standing building, but the subway ride. We had debated driving downtown (giving us the option for a quicker, private departure if anyone shifted into meltdown mode) but I’m so glad we chose the subway. Avery was beside herself with excitement. “I can’t wait to get on the subway train!” she exclaimed as we drove to the station. She wore a giddy grin the entire ride. Both ways.
We knew the girls probably wouldn’t manage well beyond lunch, so we caught the train home as soon as we could pull them out of the restaurant. Anna was pretty wound up and — Today’s Parent plug here — I remembered the "Waiting games" story on p. 32 of the March issue and used the Zoo-phabet game: Think of an animal for every letter of the alphabet (then we moved on to food). It almost got us home — I wish I’d remembered more of the games. Check them out.
On the way home, Anna said, “That was a great adventure!” It truly was. It reminds me of the doors opening up to us as the kids get older, and the amazing city we have such easy access to. I look forward to showing the girls so much more.
And definitely taking the subway there! Once we got home, the girls couldn’t stop playing “subway” with the dining room chairs, their stuffies in their bedrooms, etc. Who knew it would be the biggest hit of the day?
Did you do anything special for Family Day, or just enjoy an extra day off (if you got it off)?

This article was originally published on Feb 21, 2012

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