My husband and I take the commuter rail and then subway or bus to work, and my girls have always been infatuated with this form of transportation. The decision was unanimous to take our commute for a family day in the city, but only if their beloved Gaga would join in on the ride.

We are fortunate enough to live a mere two hours from my dad and stepmother, so when it came time to plan my dad’s 63rd birthday his request was simple: a day with his granddaughters. My daughters “Belly” and “Bear” were tasked with planning a birthday celebration worthy of their “Gaga.”

Despite a delay to our trip due to a poorly timed case of conjunctivitis (is there ever a good time?), we finally set out one blistering cold Saturday bound for the commuter rail station. Climbing up metal stairs to the commuter rail’s open bridge platform made for a blustery start, especially once the Amtrak train – that shares the commuter track – sped by. Both girls’ eyes widened to the size of saucers as they pondered exactly what they had gotten themselves into.

Girls on the train

Belly, the oldest, has struggled with sensory processing disorder since birth so she was nervous about being on the train without seatbelts (my safety officer!), but Bear just smiled and stared the entire way. Thirty minutes later we arrived at South Station and made our way down the stairs to Boston’s Red Line so we could continue the trek to Harvard Square. Our destination: Boston’s The Curious George Store, the world’s only store dedicated to the curious little monkey who has enthralled my girls for as long as they can remember.

Once in the Curious George store, Belly decided she needed not one, but two, Curious George dolls (one Christmas, one birthday, fittingly enough) while Bear let all within earshot know she needed a new lunchbox because hers was “so old, Mommy.”No books requests. Much like the whirlwind in which we entered, our journey was complete. For those keeping track, after more than an hour commute we’d spend only 20 minutes in the store.

In total, the birthday celebration for Gaga lasted about six hours – half of which was spent aboard public transportation. Nonetheless, it couldn’t have been a better day or a more memorable one for all involved. Next up: traveling to New York to visit Aunt Stacey via Amtrak. Wish us luck!


Amanda Griffith is a wife to Patrick and mom to two young daughters, Belly and Bear (ages 5 and almost 4) and a one-year-old golden retriever Boden. When she’s not working as a PR professional she stays active chasing after her family and nurturing her not-so-secret addiction to Downton Abbey.