Not really. But in response to Cruz’ disparaging comments about the New York attitude, coupled with the unfortunate video of his daughter flicking him away, I logically got to thinking about why I am actually enjoying raising my kids in NYC.
(I need to also preface this with the fact that I was getting tired of all of my post ideas having a predictably blue January tone. So this one is a bit haphazard, but nonetheless happy, as it’s about a topic that makes me smile most lately.)
What am I liking about raising my kids in NYC right now?
1. Exposing them to experiences that they may not have otherwise had access to. Good and bad.
I love watching my kids take it all in. Imagining what their brains are processing, seeing little light bulbs switching on…. Watching the most authentic of smiles appear…
But I also see them immune to certain circumstances, because it’s blended in with the myriad of experiences, or because they aren’t aware of something being unusual anymore…
So it’s the good with the bad.
2. Learning patience.
Sometimes things take longer here. Sometimes you arrive when you are meant to. And sometimes the E train leaves you stranded underground for 90 minutes. Or sometimes your favourite coffee shop is now 90 other people’s favourite spot because there are 8 million people here. And all you can do is wait. And breathe.
3. Learning tolerance.
8 million people. 8 million unique smells, and shapes, and ideas, and voices.
4. Learning to appreciate one another’s space.
8 million people. Crowding the same streets, and jamming on to the same subway car. Filling the same cavernous grocery stores and waiting at the same restaurants. We share this space and are reminded of that, whether within our tiny apartment, or out in the city.
5. Chance to develop a voice.
It’s a loud place. Not just with the endless sirens, and dump trucks, and horns. But again, with the many voices. There are a lot of confident people, with varied and legitimate experiences that the stories they share are routed in. It’s been important for me to learn that having a voice and offering ideas and sharing my own stories and asking my own questions is the best way to be an active, engaged member of this city. And I love being able to demonstrate that for my kids each day.
6. Endless opportunities to be creative.
Organized, ticketed experiences (of varying degrees of formality), as well as more spontaneous experiences, where the energy and colour that this city offers to inspire a creative expression. Nobody’s watching, or 8 million people are watching- but who cares? At least half of those 8 million people have come from watching a performance, and the other half are on their way to being in a performance. Creative talent abounds, and the city is waiting with open arms for little ones to experience this talent.
7. Learning to enjoy their home and their stuff; they have less of both, and that just makes them more selective, and appreciative.
8. Chances to push themselves.
NYC is a city full of talent. Big brains, big hearts, big voices, big bodies.
Be inspired by this. And maybe a bit intimidated. But move past the intimidation factor, and push yourself to be bigger. Be inspired by this talent.
9.We can all be uncomfortable. And scared. Wherever we are.
Being able to live this every day with my kids, and to see them overcome their discomfort, alongside me, is a pretty special thing.
10. There are some opportunities for equalizing. Sort of.
All of the kids in my kids’ classes live in either 2 or 3 bedroom apartments. They all share the same backyard, which is the park that said apartments are all 1-2 blocks away from. They don’t have garages or basements full of toys or clothes or bikes or other ‘stuff’ that can indicate more of the ‘haves’ than the ‘have nots.’ But some have summer houses. And cars. And some summer in France. And we all live in a really privileged part of the city. So it’s more of a sort of benefit of living here.
11. Get help. And say thank you.
Not unique to NYC, as working families across North American encounter the same logistical and energy challenges that we are facing. But there is a frenetic pace at times here. And it can, oddly enough, be a lonely place. It’s intense and a bit daunting managing work, and kids and commuting and all of the other things that just come up. But the sense of community that we have here is amazing. There’s an awareness and a support, and there’s an unspoken acknowledgement that living here can be hard, and help is needed on some days. Take the help, and make sure you set the example and say thank you for the help.
12. Explore. Near and far.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be shlepping yourself and your kids to the furthest, most obscure ‘hidden gem’ each weekend. It doesn’t mean that you need to be perpetually pushing yourselves out of your comfort zones in order to really have an ‘experience.’
It could. But it could also mean that you explore a question, an idea, a dream together on your couch one focused Saturday morning. Intentionally or not, living in NYC exposes your kids to a breadth of smells, sounds, creations, ideas and colours than many other places. It’s my job, and my favourite job of all, to help them to process these experiences, to explore in a way that inspires them, that excites them, that grows them. Big and small explorations. Every single day. However tired we might all be.