It’s not easy to get some father-daughter time when you have three kids who all need equal love and attention, and also a wonderful wife that desires some special date nights.  On top of that, we are always trying to get time to do all the things we have to do during the normal work week, daily routines, home work, cleaning and cooking.

To make sure that each kid get some alone time with us parents, my wife and I decided some months ago that we should have a mum / dad activity ever so often.  In simple terms, that means that I would spend some time with e.g. the youngest daughter for a few hours, taking her to the zoo, hiking, cinema etc.

It had been a while since I was able to spend a few hours with our oldest daughter.  Last time we wanted to go to the cinema, the cinema had not updated their web site and the movie we wanted to see was no longer showing.

Given our oldest daughter’s fascination with Harry Potter in recent months, I found the perfect father / daughter outing … The Harry Potter exhibition at the Discovery Centre at Times Square.  Only catch was, I had to make sure she didn’t get wind of my plans as I wanted it to be a surprise.

I’m shite at keeping secrets, as my dear wife can confirm, so it was a challenge of extra proportions for me to keep my daughter in the dark … even if it only meant to discuss the event with my wife using code words like ‘thingy-that-cannot-be-uttered‘ and ‘weekend pass to New Hogsmeade event‘.

I bought the tickets online, similar to the 98.7% things we buy online nowadays, and printed out the tickets.  All I needed to do now was keeping my gob shut for a few days.

*gob - an Irish, British and Australian noun meaning mouth

I was itching to tell her that we were going to see all the Harry Potter exhibits and I knew she would be super happy and excited.  I was eager as a kid in the Honeydukes store too.  Imagine, we would be seeing Buckbeak up close, snatch the Golden Snitch from the Nimbus 2000 and stare at all the wonderful effects used in the movies.  It was magical.

The weekend finally arrived and I instructed my daughter to get ready and told her we were heading to NYC for a couple of  hours.  She kept asking why and I kept eluding her probing questions.

As we drove towards Times Square, cruising in the family SUV, I calmly told her the news.  To say she was excited was an understatement.   Her face filled with the biggest smiles I’ve seen in months.  It was literally from ear to ear.

Because of the ridiculous NYC traffic, we ended up being about 10 minutes late.  As soon as the car was parked, we ran towards the Discovery Centre, crossing Times Square and Broadway without even stopping to take in the sights.

I almost threw the tickets at the guy at the door, while at the same time ripping open the door to the exhibition, to make sure we didn’t miss the event.  Thankfully the tour hadn’t started, so we had a few minutes to catch our breath.

The tour started with the usual touristic photo op, so we lined up in front of the green screen with wands ready and smiling at the camera.  I’m not sure why I was handed Voldemort’s wand, but I’m sure it was just a mistake.

It all started with the sorting hat. The guide had to place a few kids in the houses.  For some reason the little HP fan froze up and didn’t dare to be placed in a house.  She is clearly a Gryffindor. We spent the next 75 minutes walking through all the wonderful props from the movies.  My daughter was in awe, frantically listening to the audio device at every single exhibit, learning the ‘secrets’ of the movies.

We sat in Hagrid’s enormous chair, threw a few hoops with the quaffles, pulled up Mandrakes and walked through the death eaters hangout.  IT WAS SO COOL!

It was not so cool having to pay for all the souvenirs she wanted after the tour!

I must admit I was a little disappointed that we were not allowed to take pictures during the tour, while seeing all the cool things, but I guess they wanted the visitors to fork out $20 on the official exhibition program.  With the price we paid to get into see the props, I would’ve expected the program to be part of the adventure.

We had a fantastic outing and I loved spending time with my daughter.  After flying around the magical world of Harry Potter, we went for dinner and entered another less magical world … in fact, it was pretty scary.

How do you spend time with your kids?

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