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INSIDE STORY: Father-son trip to the Big Apple an adventure


NEW YORK — At 7 p.m. on a Friday, my 11-year-old son, Keaton, stands at the corner of Wall Street and Broadway amid portable hot-dog stands and buildings tall enough for Superman to leap.
As crowds hustle by, I stop on the sidewalk and snap a picture.
Then I ask myself — and Keaton — the burning question: Where are we?
Yes, I know we’re at a famous intersection. But I have no idea where that is in relation to where we were supposed to be an hour ago.
I traveled to the Big Apple on assignment. As a birthday present for Keaton, I used a chunk of the Ross family’s tax rebate check from Uncle Sam to bring my middle child with me.
My reasons for taking Keaton were both noble and self-serving.
On the noble side, I wanted to spend time alone with him. My wife, Tamie, and I enjoy our entire family of five being together, but we believe our children benefit from occasional opportunities to be the sole focus of one parent’s attention.
On the self-serving side, I wanted to experience the magic of New York — the lights, the yellow taxicabs, the mix of people from all over the world — through a child’s eyes.
We flew out of Oklahoma City early that Friday, caught a connecting flight in Minneapolis and arrived at New York’s LaGuardia Airport by mid-afternoon.
After a 45-minute cab ride to the apartment where we were staying, we unloaded our bags, rested a bit and walked to a subway station. A Metropolitan Transportation Authority map in hand, I figured we could make it with no problem to a 6 p.m. appointment with Manhattan minister Tom Robinson.
But somehow, we got on a train going the wrong way — and then another one.
Which is how, half a dozen trains later, we ended up at Wall Street and Broadway — roughly eight miles from the Manhattan church.
Thanks to friendly New Yorkers (I wish I had thought to ask real people for directions sooner!), we eventually made it to the church.
That evening, back at our temporary residence, we walked in the cool night air to a neighborhood pizzeria called Luigi’s. We devoured a piping hot, 12-inch pepperoni pizza and boxed up the remaining two slices to take with us.
After writing last month about feeding the hungry, I had no choice but to offer the leftover pizza to an apparently homeless man we passed on the sidewalk.
But he declined it.
“He only takes cash,” quipped the New Yorker walking behind us.
Keaton and I both laughed.
On Saturday, we decided to take the subway to the Staten Island Ferry so we could see the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, dumb old Dad messed up again and we ended up in the Bronx — the exact opposite end of the line.
By then, we had to catch a separate train to New Jersey for interviews with a group of church planters.
While obviously disappointed, Keaton handled the latest setback with a minimum of grumbling. (If only his father could learn to be so patient and understanding!)
That night, we tried visiting the Statue of Liberty again. Believe it or not, we succeeded. Aboard the ferry, we experienced a majestic view of the Manhattan skyscrapers and Lady Liberty.
On Sunday, not wanting to risk being late for worship and the feature story for which I had traveled 1,500 miles, we hitched a cab to the church.
By 3 p.m., Keaton had sat through nearly two full days of interviews by Dad. He was ready for some fun. And fortunately for both of us, fun was in store.
Like me, Keaton is a big baseball fan. So, when I planned the trip, I checked into Yankees and Mets tickets.
Since the Yankees were out of town and the Mets were home, the choice was easy.
As much as I paid for the airfare, I decided to go the discount route on the tickets. My wife logged on to eBay.com and found two nosebleed seats for $20 total — half the face value.
But then our awesome neighbor Jeff, father of Keaton’s friend Ian, found out we were going. Jeff knows a scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Mets’ opponent that night, and arranged for us to sit 16 rows behind home plate — baseball’s version of the Promised Land.
From our lofty perch, we filled up on hot dogs and peanuts, watched Mets ace Johan Santana notch his 100th win and made memories that, I hope, will last Keaton a lifetime.

Bobby Ross Jr. is Managing Editor of The Christian Chronicle. Reach him at [email protected].

Filed under: Inside Story

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