Sunday Fundays: getting your young toddler to nap, and the game of “spot the spotted lanternfly!”

After a productive lunch where she ate an adult-sized portion of steamed beets and roasted broccoli, Kaia got pushed out on a stroller on an aimless joy ride uptown in an attempt to fall asleep (and for mummy to increase her step count). About 15 minutes into this stroll, she easily conked out, and I had the pleasure of listening to The Daily (NY Times) podcast all the way up to 86th Street and back down. When we finally did reach back home, she insisted over and over again that she wanted to go on the swings. I asked her if she was really sure she wanted to go on the swings (as of late, she seems to hate the swings. Chris says it’s definitely because she doesn’t like the the feeling of being trapped or confined in one position), and she kept whining that she did. So I brought her down to Riverside Park, where she cried and pushed as I tried to put her on a swing. I took her out, and then we started our stroll along the walking path along Riverside Park overlooking the Hudson.

The entire Riverside Park is swarming with my most hated insect at the moment, the spotted lantern fly. Every time I see those stupid spotted little red and grey wings, all I want to do is smash them. And given Kaia seems to love identifying them and saying “lantern fly” in her sing-songy tune, I decided to make a game of our little walk: while I pushed her stroller as she walked alongside me, I told her to point out any lantern fly she saw crawling along the ground, and then mummy would immediately go and smush it! We need to kill all the lantern flies in our path, I explained to her, because these lantern flies are an invasive species: they will overtake not only all our vineyards and farms, but they will freaking overtake all of New York City if we let them! And we cannot allow this to happen! So we went along the path, where Kaia’s keen eyesight identified over 50 lantern flies that I happily smashed. Every single time I smushed yet another one, she’d scream and giggle endlessly, then yell, “All dead! All dead!” She’d continue to find more and more, and then I’d smush and smush them. She truly could not get enough of this game.

A number of other parents with young children passed us as we played this game, and a lot of the parents knew what we were doing. One parent gave me an agreeable nod, then started laughing as we smashed and smashed more. Yes, that’s right, friends: we all have to do our part to ensure that New York City will NOT be taken over by these awful pests!

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