Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Visiting New York - by Laura

Here are some tips for friends and family who are coming to visit our family here in New York City this summer:

First off, we don’t have a car. We walk everywhere or take the subway, and when we shop we buy only what we can carry or stash in the bottom of the stroller. And whereas it’s nice to hear about all the stuff you can fit in your SUV when you shop at Costco, Wal-mart and K-Mart, that’s not a reality here on the island. What is a reality is that we do pay more for everyday items, but we don’t like to talk about it for half an hour with you even after you’ve posted on Facebook how expensive paper towels are here.

New York City is a totally different lifestyle, so our conversations are vary from those you might be used to in the Midwestern suburbs. It may be fascinating to you to talk about resealing your driveway, to discuss why Budweiser is the king of beers, or to debate about which Lion’s Club will win the chili cookoff, but for this audience it might be a challenge to stay engaged. The bartender is not being rude. It’s just not relevant. Also, please don’t compare New York’s cost of living to your cost of living. We know we’re paying a lot in rent for very small spaces, but hearing that we can live in a mansion in Chickenville, Arkansas, for these prices doesn’t mean anything to us. Plus, there’s a reason real estate is affordable in Chickenville. Nobody wants to live there, and the Broadway productions suck.

No. Having babies in the city is not easy, but it’s definitely do-able. In fact, it has huge advantages. Whereas we may not have a lawn to play on, we also do not have a lawn to mow, so we have more time to sit on the floor and read to our kids. And to make up for the lack of lawns, we have plenty of lovely parks, award-winning, progressive schools, and a plethora of kid-friendly places where they can go and be exposed to art, music, theater and more. Just because we don’t have a backyard full of plastic toys, it doesn’t mean our kids are deprived of a rightful childhood.

Yes. New York City is dirty. And so are pig farms, restaurant kitchens, and your three-car garage. New Yorkers are probably some of the most germ aware people on the planet, and people like me have hand sanitizer on our persons at all times to prove it. That’s why we cringe when you put your shoes up on our furniture. We tend to take our shoes off when we’re in someone’s home, which is a gracious custom, as well as being more comfortable and relaxing.

Yes. New York City is loud. And so is your gignormous 72” flat screen TVs with Dolby surround sound that you have blaring constantly in your bonus room where you child spends most of his or her time playing with their Nintendo instead of getting outside and meeting other people, having social interactions, and being exposed to culture.

Yes. We have to go to the grocery store every two days. This is not a burden. It means fresh vegetables and fruits on our table instead of week-old broccoli from Safeway wilting away in the crisper. It means we walk more. It means we carry more. It means we stay active and actually burn off some of the calories we are eating.

You’re welcome here. This is a great place to visit and an advantageous place to live. But please don’t “feel sorry” for the children who live here. Most of them grow up to be very successful because of the culture, the education, the people, and the opportunities this city has to offer. The bar is set high here. And New Yorkers of all ages like to rise to it.

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