Charlie and Children on the MBTA

Taking your kids on the T.

Originally published February 4, 2011

Two months ago, I wrote about how Nomi and I decided to get rid of our car even though we have to ferry Muffin and Squeaker around every now and then. Brookline is a  walkable enough town, though, that in general we don’t miss it.

But not having a car did shape our parental decisions in some ways. For example, when  we chose a pediatrician for the kids, we considered a variety of factors. Some were the  usual ones, such as recommendations from friends, availability, and reputation. But we  also took into account T-accessibility, which is how we ended up with a pediatrician  literally across the street from the Kent Street Green Line C stop.

Of course, in the first years of life, babies and toddlers need to see the doctor more frequently than the typical annual appointment scheduled for older kids and adults. What this has meant for us is that every three months or so, we’ve had to take the kids to their doctor on the T; specifically, the Green Line C, which runs down the center of Beacon Street.

Is it difficult to bring twin girls on the T? Well, that depends. Our most recent ride was no picnic, due to awkward timing. On January 18, we brought our kids to their eighteen-month pediatrician appointment. We had to take a nine o’clock appointment time, and that meant getting on the Green Line in the middle of rush hour. We live a few stops down from Cleveland Circle, so when we boarded the train, it was empty enough for us to take the wheelchair-accessible slot on one of the new cars. That’s what we usually do.

Unfortunately, that Tuesday the Green Line C was hosed because of snow. The train that arrived for us comprised two of the old-style cars, which meant that there wasn’t really a good spot for us to situate the stroller. We settled ourselves into the far door well as best as we could, which meant balancing the stroller so it wouldn’t tip over into the stairs.

When we boarded, the train wasn’t too bad, but by the time we had gone a few stops, many more passengers – including another couple with a stroller – were bursting the trolley at its seams.

We were delighted when we were able to get off at Kent Street. As I had done once before, I apologetically asked everyone to move and pointed out that we were about to give them a lot more room. People moved out of our way, even if it meant they had to get off the train and then board it again.

I will say this: never has a fellow passenger complained out loud to us about our having to take the kids in their stroller on the T. I’m sure they’ve found it inconvenient and probably annoying, but to their credit, they’ve never said anything to us. I assume that they understand that when it comes to taking the T, we’re all in it together.

The Green Line drivers generally understand our situation as well. I remember when we brought the kids to the pediatrician for their first appointment, the one less than twenty-four hours after we had brought them home from the hospital. That was a crazy morning, as we had yet to figure out the routine of how to leave efficiently. The clock ticked off yet another few minutes past when we had to leave in order to get to the doctor on time, and we had a problem. The kids were ensconced in infant car seats, those large plastic molded things that weigh a ton. We had a snap ‘n’ go stroller to insert the seats into, but we couldn’t figure out how to get it to work. So, finally, in a significant rain, I picked up both car seats by the handles and carried them to the T, while Nomi carried their diaper bag.

At that time, of course, Muffin and Squeaker were less than a week old, and we had managed to grab an appointment time that meant taking the T at an off-peak time. When the T drivers both ways saw us carrying the baby girls in their car seats, they broke into big smiles and asked us lots of questions. One of them even shook our hands and
congratulated us. Nowadays people still find Muffin and Squeaker adorable, but people do react differently to toddlers than they do to newborns.

So for their next doctor’s appointment, we’ve come to the decision that ten o’clock is the way to go. It may mean taking some personal time from work, but I’d rather deal with that than a stroller on the T in rush hour.

This week’s column is written by Michael A. Burstein.

About this column: The adventures of two Brookline parents and their twin daughters, Muffin and Squeaker. This column originally appeared on the Brookline Patch website. Copyright 2010 by Brookline Patch.

About Michael A. Burstein
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