kid-friendly Times Square

Live from Times Square, NYC

5:15 p.m. Tuesday... We are on a train to NYC with Bill's family -- the final fling before school starts next week. After using the same credit card for some 25 years, we had enough reward points to stay in Times Square. I'm preparing for sensory overload and have forewarned Will and Liam about round-the-clock horns, sirens, jack hammers, and neon lights. We have never been to NYC as a family. Big city adventure is calling the Malcolms. Unsure if these independent boys will understand why every day they must wear the same brightly colored shirts as one another. They will in 20 years when they are on this train with their kids. The older set is going to the 9/11 Museum tomorrow. I got teary when I saw a clip on TV of the museum's executive director pointing to a piece of metal that represented "the moment of impact." The irony turned my stomach: He was so proud of his museum with this hunk of bent metal; he spoke in a subdued dystopian voice. I'm not sure in my lifetime I will ever want to see that moment again. Perhaps the boys will when they are adults. It will be in their history books, not etched on the backs of their eyes.

On a brighter note, tomorrow I'm taking Will and Liam to "The Art of Brick," a LEGO sculpture exhibit at Discovery Museum. I'm already imagining the LEGOS flying out of the tubs when we get home. Will & Liam, inspired to build. Me, panicked to sort. Earlier this summer we were hit by this LEGO bug. Rather than buying a $50 LEGO sorter, I punched quarter-sized holes all over the bottom of an Amazon cardboard box, filled it with scoops of mixed-up LEGOS, and shook it to bits as I watched the little LEGOs drop through the holes. Perhaps I should have done some sorting before the trip and warmed up their senses to the noise of NYC.

11:30 p.m. Tuesday... Just got into the hotel after a stroll in Times Square, where first reluctant boys agreed to hold our hands within the first 15 minutes of our walk. Lying in bed, we are summing up our first few hours in NYC. Giggling, Liam repeats words from one of the gigantic billboards, "How do you get a beta butt?" The drawing on that billboard will probably come out in one of his flip-o-ramas. I ask, "OK, who saw the man wearing only underwear and a big gold chain around his neck?" Will, "I did." Me: "I hope I never see one of my adult sons in Times Square wearing only his underwear." Will: "I will be in Orlando. NASA isn't here."

8:00 a.m. Wednesday... I'm Googling our destinations today. Last night walking back to the hotel, Bill and I realized we cannot rely on the gigantic billboards to navigate. They are all digital screens. A close-up graphic for slimming women's underwear might be at a particular corner, and when we return, it could be completely different, perhaps "How do you get a beta butt?"

Happy Hump Day from the city that never sleeps.