Toddler carousel time: the Instagram “experience” vs. the real experience

I had read about the magical SeaGlass Carousel downtown at Battery Park, how all the glittering animals were from the sea and how glorious the carousel looked just at dusk when all the colorful lights came on. It looked like this picture-perfect Instagram photo op for parents with young children. Given how early Kaia’s bedtime is, I figured we’d wait until she was a bit older to get on this carousel during the evening time. A closer carousel option for daytime would be the one at Central Park, and so today, we went with her school bestie and his parents there for one last playdate before their big move to a Jersey suburb.

Her classmate’s parent suggested we get at least 2-3 tickets each (one per rider, including the adult) because the kids would likely want more than a single ride. I watched Kaia as she observed the carousel go round and round, so I thought she’d enjoy it once we were on. But… how wrong I was. As soon as we got on with her friend and his parent, it was total hell: I tried to get her on a horse, but she screamed that she didn’t want to go on and screamed and cried endless tears for the entire duration of the first ride. Chris and her bestie’s mom were observing, and they wondered if the crying child was Kaia… and yes, they were right. Chris captured a bit of the screaming on video, just to “document” the first carousel ride experience, and I was completely worn out after just one ride of having Kaia scream in my ear and battle me to get off the moving carousel.

The second ride was a lot better: Chris came on board and judiciously chose to have Kaia sit on the chariot with the friend and parent. She happily got on and got off when the carousel stopped. Then, the third and final ride was with me again. She was happy for the entire ride, once again in the chariot, but when it was time to get off, she absolutely did NOT want to get off. And she screamed and yelled that she didn’t want to get off this time. I literally had to drag her off. The operators gave me sympathetic looks as I got off and thanked them.

“I should have warned you ahead of time that the first ride would be brutal,” her bestie’s dad told me. “The first ride, they scream and cry bloody murder and hate every second. Then, the second ride, they have fun. The third ride, they love it so much that they refuse to get off. It’s like a textbook experience, ride by ride. Kaia is the same as Jacob.”

Welp. It goes without saying that we did not capture any good photos during these carousel rides. But hey, maybe in a couple years, we’ll do better?

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