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35 Steps to Riding a Train with a Toddler

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It was a bright, sparkling summer day. My toddler and I hadn’t spent much time alone since the twins arrived, so I thought I’d treat him to a special date with mama. Nothing too ambitious, just something “quick” and “easy.”

toddler train

“I know!” I thought to myself, “Let’s go ride the train!” Poor, sweet, naïve Marie.

How I envisioned this outing: 1) drive to train station, 2) buy tickets, 3) ride comfy air-conditioned commuter train for a while, 4) ride back to car, 5) drive home. The End. Warm, lovely, delicious childhood memories to be had by all.

This is how it went down.

1) Drive to train station.

2) Park car, unload toddler, purse, & Elmo backpack, then s-l-o-w-l-y shuffle with toddler to platform.

(Side note: The slow toddler shuffle could be used as a form of torture to get informants to talk. “I’ll tell you where the money is, just don’t make me walk the toddler to the car! He’s JUST SO SLOW!!”)

3) Get told by a grouchy security guard I have to move my vehicle.

4) S-l-o-w-l-y shuffle back to car (UGH!!)

5) Buckle in toddler, load up purse & Elmo backpack, then drive around finding appropriate parking spot.

6) Park car (AGAIN), unload toddler, purse, & Elmo backpack (AGAIN), then s-l-o-w-l-y (TORTURE!!) shuffle with toddler to platform (AGAIN).

7) Attempt to buy ticket while toddler pushes all the buttons before finding out the ticket dispenser won’t take any of my forms of payment.

8) Attempt to buy ticket at ANOTHER terminal while toddler pushes all the buttons (GRRR!)

9) Complete ticket purchase just as train is leaving.

10) Sigh.

11) Realize the next train doesn’t arrive for 30 minutes.

12) Sigh.

13) Decide to walk to the smoothie joint and back with toddler.

14) S-l-o-w-l-y shuffle a couple blocks to the smoothie joint.

15) Talk about the signs on the side of the street and the colors of the cars and the stop lights and signs and big buses driving by in a valiant attempt to remain a fun mom.

16) Carry the toddler, Elmo backpack, purse, and two smoothies all the way back to the train station in the blazing hot sun because I REFUSE to miss the train TWICE.

17) Arrive just in time to board the train.

18) Sigh.

19) Sit in lovely air-conditioned commuter train and sip smoothies with my adorable toddler gazing out the window as the world rushes by. Warm, lovely, delicious childhood memories.

20) Immediately exit the train at the next stop because the toddler is “all done train” (WTH!)

21) Realize the return train won’t be arriving for another 30 minutes (WTH!)

22) Sigh.

23) Resume my valiant attempt at remaining a fun mom by suggesting we catch the bus back to the car.

24) Cross the street to the bus station.

25) Locate the correct bus route and wait for the 305 Eastbound.

26) Feeling pretty confident in my abilities as a responsible parent who has overcome numerous obstacles to provide her son with a fabulous transportation adventure!

27) Realize my phone is at 8%. Parental confidence now at 5%.

28) Locate pay phone, just in case. Parental confidence back to 90%.

29) Ask friendly stranger how much the bus fare is cuz I haven’t been on this bus in, like, 20 years. Parental confidence down to 75%.

30) Bus arrives, board and pay bus fare.

31) Sing “Wheels on the Bus” with my toddler ON AN ACTUAL BUS! Parental Confidence 100%!!

32) Anxiously observe every bus exit for fear of missing our stop. Confidence waning.

33) Exit one stop too early out of fear of missing our stop. Parental confidence back at 5%.

34) S-l-o-w-l-y shuffle with toddler several blocks.

35) Arrive at our BELOVED MINI-VAN and drive home. Halle-freakin’-lujah.

The whole thing was about one thousand times more complicated then I had envisioned it. I nearly lost it at least seven times. Also, I felt like a failure as a person on 3 or more separate occasions.


You guys. My kid got to ride a train and a bus for the first time ever! And sing “The Wheels on the Bus” on AN ACTUAL BUS! So… Parental confidence 1000%. Mic drop.

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