Single male late twenties entrusted with the well-being of a child. HELP!

So, my best friend has two daughters to whom I have been an uncle since their births. I love kids in general, an especially these two little girls who mean the world to me. I’m the fun uncle who takes them out to do a kinda fun stuff, I toss them in the pool, I jump on the trampoline, I participate in games and art projects. I really am the coolest uncle in the world, way cooler than you.

So, here’s my latest cool uncle thing. Both the girls (ages 8 and 6) are really into art and theatre and music and such. Now, I grew up just a short drive from New York City and I have a very special love for it. I want them to grow up with an experience and understanding of what New York City is. Well, guess what. I’m the person in their life who is most qualified to show it to them. They live in Michigan. Neither of their parents know New York.

Their mother and I have planned a trip involving me and just the 8 year old (this time). We will have two full days in New York (3 nights) to do all kinda fun stuff. Now I’ve already started to come up with various activities and there is already another thread about things to do in New York with an 8 year old. I’ve started this new thread for different reasons.


This is the longest period of time that I’ve ever had to be responsible for a child- a real live human child who needs stuff! I’ve done lots of babysitting. I’ve done day trips to the zoo. But this is an entire weekend of just me (29 year old, single, never had any children) and an 8 year old girl. It’s also worth noting that she is quite a momma’s girl and this will be the longest time she’s ever been without one parent or the other.

So, how do I make sure she has fun the whole time? I’m not looking for specific activity suggestions- we have those in the other Thread- I mean stuff like:
how much can we do in one day?
how much walking can I expect her to do?
I don’t want her to get bored but I also don’t want her to get overwhelmed.
Should I keep snacks on my person throughout the day? What kind?
What do I do if she suddenly really wants her mother who is a thousand miles away?


It’s also worth noting that we do have a very good relationship. She likes spending time with me and she is VERY excited about this trip. She has been looking forward to it ever since it was announced as a Christmas present. She is intelligent, responsible, and well-behaved. So I’m not really expecting there to be too much trouble.

Still, I am a little bit scared- this is a very “grown-up” thing to be doing. My chief concern is that I fill the day with enough fun stuff but not so much that she is overwhelmed. New York can be exhausting for an adult, I need to know where to set my expectations for an 8 year old.


Just let her know that is she is tired to let you know. Then you can take a break, either back at the hotel or in a park.

I think she will probably need some ‘wild’ time. Some time to just run and play and scream in a park and not just be nice and quite walking through museums and seeing shows.

Oh and going easy on the sugar would probably be a good idea.
Good luck!

You should definitely have some snacks with you. Cookies, fruit, bottles of juice or water. Carry a backpack around. And realize that an 8-year-old will want a preztel/hot dog/ice cream every time you pass a vendor’s cart!

She probably will get homesick, and there’s not much you can do about that but try to keep her mind off it, and let her call home every night from the hotel to tell her mother about all the fun she’s having.

What’s fun too is to let her have her own camera and take her own pictures. They make all kinds of fun cameras for kids - bright colors, sturdy plastic, and simple to use. She can take pictures of everything she likes. If she’s a very creative kid, and likes to draw, maybe bring a sketchbook and some colored pencils, too. The best part is when you get back home after the trip, and you can both have fun putting together an album.

Lots of good advice allready in this thread. Just a few things to add.
For both your benifit it is good to work out actions to take in an emergency.

If she hasn’t got a cell phone (I kind of hope she hasn’t at only eight) it would be good to borrow one for her and have one yourself, so you can get quickly in touch if you get separated, and so she can phone home whenever she feels the need.
Arange what you will both do if she gets lost, this will depend on how well she knows New York, and how grown up she is in an emergency.

[ul][li]Don’t ask, “What do you want to do next?” Ask, “Do you want to go to the zoo, or go shopping?”[/li][li]Don’t expect everything to go perfectly. It won’t. [/li][li]Kids get cranky when they are tired, hungry, or sick. [/li][li]You are a cool uncle. [/ul][/li]

I’ll have mine, she’ll be borrowing her mother’s. Your concerns mirror mine exactly. Thanks!

Thank you.

Wow, bienville, wanna be MY uncle?

Just a thought:

If you become seperated, make sure you have a plan of how to find each other.
A whistle about her neck might be a plan. Finding the nearest store employee or a Mom with Kids to help her out. Or just shouting out your name in a crowd. **Uncle Beinville! **

I don’t think I could go to NYC (or any big city) with my kids without panicking. Between the traffic, which they are not use too and the crowds ( ditto) I’d probably never let go of their hands at all.
She should know her name,address, phone number by now. She should have your cell phone number and pertitant info. Better yet, write it down on a 3x5 card with your picture on it and stuff it in her pocket. Kids get easily frazzled in crisis situations.

Also, since you are having her for such a long time, have a letter of consent from the parents along with emergency info ( insurance, allergies) to keep with you in the unlikely event something happens. this will streamline everything if you have to do a trip to the emergency ward.

Kids impulsively want to buy everything they see. Whatever rule you set up for " I want that!" will set the tone for future stays.

You are the Way Cool Uncle.

I would like to suggest for the night time quiet time. How about a One 4 One movie.

She picks a movie. You show her one of your favorite movies when you were a kid.

That way you don’t have to suffer too much through the Princess Diaries.

Deffinately have a plan for if you get split up, does anyone in NYC area know the best people to contact for both parties if they get split up? I would guess that both contacting the Police would be best, but I don’t know NYC or its police well.

( If Niece contacts police, and Uncle contacts police will the police get them back together in a timely fashion, or will they be left waiting around in a station until paerents are contacted etc. )

It is useful to know from the Niece’s parents what they allow and don’t allow, you don’t want to get hood-winked into going to a gaming arcade which the parents would get upset about. Also consider spending money, how much the parents will give their girl, and how much you will give as cool uncle. ( Kids are canny blighters, and if parents give them $100 for weekend, won’t tell you when you buy them that pretty dress and shoes and toy and …, whilst they go home with $97.23 still in their pocket. )

Just a thought here…not sure if it would work in your situation, but when my kids were younger, I would write their names, address and contact phone number on their bellies with an ink pen (which comes off easily with rubbing alcohol). If they were ever to get into a fix, then the info was relatively handy, but not obvious to anyone in general passing. (Plus, the really morbid part of me always worried about them not only being seperated, but unconscious, and what’s the first thing the paramedics do, but cut off the clothing, especially the shirt.)

Don’t count on a hysterical kid who cannot find mom/dad in a crowd remembering a phone number. Paper, index cards, etc. can easily be lost, or become unreadable if wet.

An index card can be easily laminated from any basic do-it-yourself laminating kit bought at a Target/Kmart/ office supply section of just about any major store. Cost $5 or under.

ID Dog Tags Very affordable dog tags.

You’re the coolest uncle, I’m the coolest aunt.

2 years ago I took my niece to Phoenix with me to watch the D’Backs play the Cubs. She was 5 at the time (probably a big difference from 8). I had all the same concerns as you do. It was my first time in charge of a kid, too. Overall though, everything went great.

My one suggestion would be, since you have a cell phone, if she needs to call Mom, let her–whatever time of day (and let Mom know she might be awakened at odd hours.)

My niece only called twice–the first time about four hours into the six hour drive, when the adventure had worn off (due to staring at the highway for so long.) And the second time at the 1st baseball game. Poor kid, she lives in a town of 12,000 people and I took her to a building with 35,000 people–who all started screaming at once. Scared the hell out of her, but a call to mom and a banana sno-cone calmed here right down. After that it was my sister calling us for the rest of the weekend. (It was the first time they’d ever been apart for more than a day or so, and I think, overall, the kid handled it better :slight_smile: ).

All the suggestions above are great–you can’t be too careful. But, I’d imagine it’ll be easier than you think. And a fun time! 2 years later my niece still talks about our trip ALL the time. It’ll be a wonderful memory for both of you.

Best of luck, and HAVE FUN!!


In addition to making sure she has your info, you might also want to ask her parents to send along a letter explaining that you’ll be responsible for her for (whatever date range), how they can be contacted in case of emergency, and a copy of the girl’s medical insurance card (if she has one). Og forbid there’s a medical emergency while she’s in your care, but you really want to have some sort of proof in hand that says you’re able to make decisions for her.

The city’s a great place for a kid to have fun. I have lived in NYC since 1981, and in around…hmm…1986, we had my then Sis in Law up with my neice and nephew. We did touristy things, stuff I would never have done just living here. Statue of Liberty, World Trade Center Observation Deck, etc. It was wonderful.

The note about parental letter is a good one. You are NOT blood, correct? This letter needs to make it extremely clear that you are considered family by the parents, and have temporary say for her health and welfare. Does she have allergies to anything? Meds?

This was mentioned up there, but… have a list of things that will work out distance-wise, each day. Have a few things that work together for whatever part of the city you want to hit. A movie, and then other fun stuff in Soho, or whatever. She’s 8- does she love The Ballet? The Metropolitan Opera/ NYC Ballet museum and store at Lincoln Center is pretty cool.

I would wager that the weekend is going to FLY by. Weather depending, you can do some pretty cool things without going too far or wearing each other out. The Circle Line is an amazing trip around Manhattan island, it leaves from the piers on the Hudson River side at 42nd st. ( More or less ). The Ferry to the Statue, and Ellis Island is wonderful, and they are special places to see. The ride breaks up the long walking. You’ll both be tired but happy at the end of each day !

Movies, a show at TKTS Discount Tickets at 46th & Broadway, walking through the Villiage, etc. Man, I envy you. She’s old enough to understand it all, but young enough to find a real thrill in everything you’re going to do with her. Have a blast !!!

Is she being flown to you? She will be travelling as an Unaccompanied Minor in that case. You will want to bring every damned piece of Photo ID you own, Driv. Lic and Passport both. They will want to see it all at the airport before handing her over to you. ( Especially because you are not a parent of hers ). Assume they’ll be gruff and difficult, it’s their job to protect U.M.'s.

Heck, I’m jealous !! Makes me wish I had a young person to show around New York City. And, for those who have always heard more bad things about NYC than good things in terms of personal safety on the street, all I can say is that there was indeed an upside to having had a fascist Mayor before Bloomberg- the streets are incredibly safe, even into the nighttime…


just a couple thoughts. regarding getting separated, i’m assuming you have an answering machine at home or voice mail on the cell phones. teach her to leave a detailed message telling you where she is and the number where she can call you. that might mean teaching her how to read street signs (“i’m in the macdonald’s at broadway and 61st” is more useful than “i’m next to the really tall building”), and she may not know that most pay phones have the call-back number on them. teach her to go into a store and ask what’s the address here? speaking of pay phones, if she has to use one does she know how? will she have some phone change? if she gets stranded without money, does she know how to make a collect call? she might enjoy learning some new skills. also, if she needs help she should feel pretty safe going to a police officer, but she should know how to tell a real cop from a security guard, who might be, how shall i put it, less reliable. you might teach her to recognize the badges, emblems and other markings on a real police uniform. hell, introduce her to cop. and you might tell her that if you get separated the plan is for her to find a safe place (inside a restaurant or store, say, rather than on the street) and stay put, and you’ll come to her. if you get split up on the subway, maybe the plan should be that she’ll get off at the next stop and wait for you by the token-seller’s booth, and you’ll catch up.

gavin de becker, the celebrity security guy, says he teaches young children that if they are in trouble they should go to an adult *woman, * ideally in a store or some business place, but even on the street if they have to. he reasons that there is too great a possibility that a random male stranger could be bad news, but that a randomly selected woman is probably not going to hurt a child and will know how to help.

also, do you have some pictures of her? if not, it would be a good idea to get some. maybe you could get a polaroid or a cheap digital camera.

as to activities, i would think it would be a mistake to plan too much. almost anything she does is going to be new and novel. windowshopping on fifth avenue is an old standby. let her buy a pretzel or a hot dog from a street vendor–give her the money and let her negotiate the deal herself. take her for a ride in a new york taxi. the natural history museum is usually fun for most kids, and it’s in a fairly relaxed neighborhood to walk around in (less hectic than midtown). maybe she’d like to ride through central park in a horse-drawn carriage. be flexible. maybe she or you will think of something interesting while you’re doing something else. don’t fall into the trap of “we have to get through this museum by 1:15 so we can get to the 1:35 IMAX show” etc. just have fun.