I have an acquaintance who is about to embark on her New York City adventure as her husband is being transferred. Similarly, Hubby and I lived in Manhattan for three years while he did a rotation with his firm. Millions of Manhattanites raise their children in the city, but when you are a suburban girl moving to the big city, there are many nuances of which you are unaware. It’s the Country Mouse and the City Mouse all over again, except with offspring and a lot less parking.
My advice to a Suburban Mommy on becoming a City Mommy:
1. Teach your children early that Manhattan is a melting pot of cultures and ethnicities. This will save you from embarrassment when your 3-year-old sees a Hassidic Jew and loudly proclaims, “look! It’s Abraham Lincoln!”
2. Locate all the Starbucks and Barnes and Noble locations because they have restrooms. Unfortunately, when your child has diarrhea in front of the Toys R Us in Times Square, none of these locations will be close enough. Don’t ask me how I know this, but trust that I know of what I speak. The good news is that a bout of gastric evacuation will gain you more personal space than you have EVER had in Times Square.
3. You know how when you’re walking down the sidewalk in your neighborhood and you pass someone you don’t know you smile and say good morning anyway? Don’t do that in the city. In the words of my shrink, “stop smiling at people. They think you’re a freak.” For this I paid her big bucks.
4. That wasn’t a squirrel. It was a rat. A big one.
5. Your stroller will not fit into any retail establishment. Buy a bike lock, leave the stroller outside, and enjoy wrestling your wiggly kids in the Ralph Lauren flagship store. Lock it, or you will see a homeless man transporting all his wordly possessions with your Bugaboo.
6. Finding a sweet parking spot on the street is a huge responsibility, and it is not to be taken lightly. When the street sweepers come through, you will need to remove your car from that spot, but ONLY for the duration of time it takes the street sweeper to sweep that spot. What I mean is, you need to pull out of the spot into mainstream traffic and block traffic until he passes and you can, fingers crossed!, pull back into your spot before some jackwad races in there. This is how it’s done, folks. Ambulance behind you? Wait in line, buddy; nobody’s getting my spot!
7. While I can’t stress enough how important it is to teach your children sidewalk safety immediately, I might suggest being aware of your word choice when doing so. It can be frightening to be waiting at the curb with the aforementioned melting pot ingredients and have your child remind you that we don’t walk until the White Man tells us we can go.
8. Speaking of which, you cannot cross Park Avenue in one light cycle by walking. You need to grab your kids and run, or else you’re going to get stuck in the median (which is lovely with its spring tulips, by the way,) and have to keep the hair out of your eyes as yellow cabs whiz past you as if they are getting ready for take-off at LaGuardia.
9. You can purchase gorgeous fresh fruit and vegetables from street vendors. And also pot.
10. Your stroller is your primary source of transportation, but be careful not to overpack. You will be carrying that bad boy UP the stairs in the Subway station, along with all your accoutrements AND your children. Plan accordingly, because it’s about 50/50 that someone will offer to help you.
To be continued . . .