Raising City Kids Pros vs. Cons

I love getting email from people who read Pistols. Usually the feedback I get is of the sweet + kind variety, from a person who wants to share a story or experience that is in line with something I’ve written. Sometimes I get emails of the heartbreaking variety, from someone who is going through hard times, maybe similar to the ones I’ve been through. But lots of the emails I get ask about parenting in NYC. I love answering the emails – I am a very good pen pal. But I thought maybe I could dedicate one post to the questions about parenting. What is it like to be a parent in NYC? Is it hard? Aren’t you worried about the safety of your children? How do you think it’s different than having kids in the suburbs?

Well.

There’s good and bad, obviously. Just as obvious, I happen to believe there is more good than bad with raising kids in a metropolitan area otherwise I’d be long gone. But I believe it entirely depends on if you can enjoy it or not. If you cannot, then duh. Go raise your kids where you’re happy. If you can enjoy it – there’s some huge perks to growing up in NYC. For instance…

On set for Goatmilk shoot

Opportunity.

Once Roan decided he was interested in modeling, it fell right into his lap. Being in New York obviously puts Roan in a great position to be cast for national campaigns, as well as cool indie labels. He loves doing it, and it’s all happening in his backyard, so to speak. His two twin brothers have had the good luck to be cast as well, though I think they’d pretty much do anything for goldfish crackers which is the currency they’ve been paid. I don’t know if they love it, but how cool will it be to show them when they’re older catalogues and pictures which are professionally and beautifully taken? Last week Sheppard did a photo shoot for Goatmilk, and the pictures that came from it? I should have been paying them. They are gorgeous. I’ll post them when I get them. And Roan got an email from a reader in Tokyo, who stealthily got this picture for him. He could not be any more excited to know his mug is hanging around in Japan.

With Love from Tokyo

It’s not just modeling. Is your kid into sewing, sports, trapeze, reading, community outreach, video games, etc.? Everything is here, quite literally. There are experts who want to share their ability with your kids in pretty much any area. I love that. It makes me so happy to know that whatever my boys are into, they can learn about it and do it here.

Iconic Stuff.

Let’s face it, NYC is full of recognizable neighborhoods, buildings and people. Everywhere we go, literally, we can see something that other people would have to use their vacation money and time to get to. Last Sunday Roan, his friend Sachin, Smith, Sheppard, Anson and I all went to Santaland to see Mr. Claus. Santaland itself is relevant as David Sedaris’ career as a writer was launched by his book about his experiences being an elf there. Not to mention it’s housed in Macy’s, home of a giant parade, and setting for “Miracle on 34th Street” (34th Street also is well-known for its rather famous skyscraper called The Empire State Building.) We went there on a Sunday afternoon, just for fun, no big deal. The boys loved it and took in all the iconic stuff as just everyday cool things. Of course, there’s the obligatory great/awful Santa pics:

First Santa experience. No tears this year.

Also no tears. Totally succesful.

If the weekend is slow, or we’re feeling ambitious, there’s a Statue of Liberty we can go see, endless museums, a gigantic park in the center of the city, old-time neighborhoods, a little town resembling China, and every single type of food available. That is something special.

Saying hello to our neighbor, Ms. Liberty.

Cool Graffiti/Art.

Street Art is coming into its own as a practical art form. I suppose because of this, there is an explosion of excellent art on building walls, street corners, sidewalks, manhole covers, garage doors – everywhere. It’s fun to talk about what we see, what it could mean, and if it’s appealing to us individually. Here are two plaques surreptitiously placed on the footbridge I cross every day on my way home. Do I like them? I guess. Mostly because they’re there, they’re funny, and they get Roan and me talking about art.

Footbridge Street Art

Immobility.

But of course, it’s not all fun + games being a mama in NYC. I do get stuck. Because I have twin infants/toddlers, no car, a limited amount of times I can ask friends to carry a baby, and endless insurmountable-by-stoller staircases. Riding the subway is a challenge with a stroller. Particularly a double stroller and I don’t even dare do it anywhere near rush hour. I’m just fortunate that I like my neighborhood because I spend a lot of time here.

Not actually as fun as it looks.

The Obligatory Mention of Disgusting Things.

Hand-in-hand with all the beauty of NYC is the undercurrent that everything, literally is pretty dirty. Even if it looks clean, there are way too many people around for it to be anywhere near clean. The subway is shiny with its smooth surfaces and dirt-hiding colors. But you know. At least I know. And I’m telling you, so you also know. Sidewalks are disgusting with dog pee and let’s be honest, human pee. I get very freaked out if Anson walks on the sidewalk barefoot (which he did this morning and I am still very “UGH!” about it) because even if you can’t see the pee, the pee is there! Everywhere! And he’s collecting it on his giant feet and bringing it inside and the babies are going to lick it off the floor and I’m falling down a big giant black germ spiral of anxiety….Ummm…ok I sound a little maniacal. Let’s move on.

Roan using his purple claw to defend against germs and criminals on the subway.

There’s also the ever-present threat of lice. Roan’s school and particularly his class are essentially a friendly lice-hosting environment. I cannot fight it so I just try to ward it off. Every Sunday I do a one-hour comb-out of Roan’s hair, to make sure there are no egg-laying blood-sucking buggies in it. Disgusting, right? I mean, why would I live in such a disgusting place?? Adaptation. I’ve been able to just categorize lice in my brain right next to mosquitoes. Annoying. Not harmful. Manageable. So I do what I can and it works to keep up my own little lice-free world at home. The rest of NYC I cannot control.

Filthy Gotham.

Filthy lovely amazing sweet home.

It’s not for everyone, but it is undoubtedly the place for me.

Baby Roan standing behind the Statue. Funny perspective, no?

16 thoughts on “Raising City Kids Pros vs. Cons

  1. Couldnt have said it better myself. For all the cons there are 10 pros. That’s how I see it. I love raising my kids here. They’ll probably move to the country first chance they get just to rebel. But until then it’s going to be celebrity sightings and lice fighting!

  2. one of the many reasons i love the life you’re living! beautiful & bizarre nyc looks awesome on you all!

  3. Sounds pretty cool to me. And just for the record, I live in a small midwestern town and have battled lice. That’s definitely not just a big city problem.

  4. As someone living in an 800,000 acre national park in west Texas, I LOVE reading about you and Anson raising kids in NYC! It is everything our life is not, just as us seeing a black bear walk by our kitchen window last week is something you guys will (hopefully) never experience at home. I love the difference and think the way you share your world is awesome. Thank you!! (ps – we have lice too!)

  5. LOVE! Last night Giovanni hung out at BookCourt (our neighborhood book shop) with the King of Cool, LOU REED. That’s right, two Brooklyn Boys chillin’…..

  6. I love that my kids are growing up in NYC. There is endless wonder right outside (usually provided by a construction vehicle of one sort or another) and my son loves pointing out the taxi drivers who are driving badly. Interestingly enough, my husband grew up in the city too and is waiting for me to move to the suburbs so he can have a house. Maybe my kids will do the same one day, but for now they are enjoying city life, grime and all.

  7. you’re making me miss new york!!!! I also love baby roan! such a cutie; no wonder he’s doing so well as a model

  8. Perfect timing! I was in New York this weekend with girlfriends and the entire time I was there I was either a) trying to figure out how I would navigate everything with my twin girls or b) trying to figure out how old they should be before I bring them and navigating isn’t so difficult.

    Watching the kids skating at Bryant Park? I was pretty jealous my girls weren’t there to do it too!

  9. You are always there to bring a smile. It is so fun to read you rather than a newspaper. I can hardly wait to see the goat milk photo. Does it bring back memories of your youth?

  10. My daughter got the absolutely worst infestation of lice at summer horseback riding camp out in the country! She’s lived in NYC for almost 8 years now and hasn’t had a case of lice since she got there!!

  11. Thanks for the post; I always wondered to a degree why folks live in NYC if they have a choice. Your description is great in explaining that.

    My daughter got lice about 1yr ago (Nov. 2010). I thought it would take forever to get rid of them! I found a great assisting device is a headband LED light for the nit-picker (moi). The lights are really bright these days and I could get all the lice and eggs once every 3 days until they were no more. The chemical stuff works only partially and the exposure factor is a great concern, so using the headlamp and close-toothed metal comb was the problem solver…

  12. I go back and forth about living in the city now that I’ve got my twins. Easy suburban life is so appealing, but every time I walk around the neighborhood with my double stroller, I can’t help but think that there is nowhere else like Brooklyn, and I’m lucky to be here. This post is a great reminder of the perks of living in NYC! Now I just need to get out and enjoy it.

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