Special Needs Now

Embracing My Son's Obsession With Fire Trucks: An Unforgettable Day

My son has had various obsessions over the years: the color purple, spaghetti, car washes, Lightning McQueen. Max's latest interests: fire trucks and firefighters.

New-York-City-Fire-Museum-photo.jpg

My husband and I have always indulged his obsessions, whether that's meant repeatedly going to car washes or painting a wall in his bedroom purple. These days, we're at our local fire station every weekend, where all the guys know Max's name; we also visit stations when we go on trips. I'm happy to explore with him.

So when we got invited to visit the New York City Fire Museum through a new Trump Kids program, I jumped at the chance and made it a Mommy-and-Me outing.

trump-soho-lobby.jpg

Trump SoHo New York recently launched Young Entrepreneurs SoHo (Y.E.S.), free of charge to kids and teens, ages 3 to 17, who are hotel guests or neighborhood locals. Activities have included classes, film screenings, and even etiquette classes. Kids staying at the hotel as part of the Y.E.S. program also get personalized business cards, a monogrammed kids' robe, plus treats like milk and cookies. The Trump SoHo hosted us; Max loves big hotels (there are 37 floors of guest rooms), and was thrilled to stay in at night, decorate cookies with the adorable firefighter-themed kit delivered to our room, and just stare out at the view.

Trump-soho-kids-photo-3.jpg

The hotel is extremely kid-friendly and wannabe–firefighter friendly. When we checked in, the desk clerk gave Fireman Max (as he likes to be known) his own room card. The next day, the front desk people all greeted him as Fireman Max. And when room service delivered our complimentary breakfast Saturday morning, the person announced "Breakfast for Fireman Max!" and his whole face lit up. Afterward, we headed to the New York City Fire Museum. There's plenty to see on the two exhibit floors, including a double-decker Philadelphia engine (which was at the opening celebration of the Statue of Liberty) and antique rescue gear, equipment, and alarm boxes.

The program kicked off with a fire safety video, followed by an interactive overview of fire-taming history. At one point, the kids formed a bucket brigade, passing imaginary water down a line. They also used a hose to put out pretend fires.

new-york-city-fire-museum-photo-4.jpg

Then we all headed to a model apartment, complete with a kitchen, bedroom and bathroom—part of a fire education program done in partnership with the New York City Fire Department. In the kitchen, a retired firefighter named Harriett talked with the kids about safety, asking questions that included what sorts of materials are flammable and why it's not a good idea to cook in a jacket (the sleeves could catch on fire). A child demonstrated the stop-drop-and-roll technique, to be done when clothing catches on fire.

new-york-city-fire-museum-mock-apartment-kitchen.png

Next, kids and parents stopped by the bathroom (hair dryer in the sink: alert! alert!) and the bedroom, where Hariett pointed out that in case of emergency we could leave via a fire escape. And then, suddenly, smoke poured into the room and the kids got down on their hands and knees to crawl out of the apartment.

smoky-room-photo.jpg

It was an extremely realistic scenario. "That's bad!" Max informed me. Still, he was mesmerized by the smoke which, Harriett later showed us, came from a fog machine in the stove.

Max left the event clutching an FDNY hat and coloring book, totally blissed out. That's one benefit of indulging kids' obsessions—it makes them happy. But it can also nourish a child's curiosity, and it's a learning opportunity. Add in a stay at an amazing hotel with Mom, and it's one weekend neither of us will ever forget.

fire-duck-photo.jpg

Ellen Seidman is a mom of two, editor, and professional snacker who blogs daily at Love That Max. You can find her pondering special needs parenthood and other important topics (such as what her next snack will be) on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ even though she still hasn't totally figured out what that is.

Images by Ellen Seidman