The Poop parentblog at the SF Chronicle raised my hopes with this headline: Why being a parent in the Bay Area totally rules.
Turns out it’s not a real list (just four items, the first is: there are lots of balloons and puppies in the Bay Area). But I’ll take the bait, particularly since I was born in SF and still have big family there. The fact is, there are lots of beautiful things about raising a kid in the Bay Area. Sunshine is one of them (unless, as I once did, you live in that slice of outer Siberia known the Richmond District).
But I would be remiss if I didn’t give a robust defense of raising a kid in New York City. Because, actually, I get asked about it all the time by people who don’t live here. And we continue to see people move (usually, I have to say, at the behest of the pregnant mom) to the suburbs or clear across the country, in a misguided attempt to find more “baby-friendly” living.
So a short list of my own: I’m sure the DadWagon cohort and our brave nascent commenters can add more.
Why raising a kid in New York rules:
- Bagels. The perfect toddler food, perfected in New York. The only thing better would be living wherever the hell Cheerios come from.
- The subway. Not just for getting around (OK, the banshee screech of the decrepit C-line brakes did scare Dalia for the first year or so), but also because they are the ideal obsession for preschoolers. Don’t know why, but Dalia–and many of her classmates–love to geek out MTA-style, reciting which trains run local or express on which days and where they go. Not that you want to let it go too far, but the subways are a great way for little brains to order the world.
- Maduros. Sweet fried plaintains: they are bananas, but even softer and sweeter. Dominicans love ‘em, babies love ‘em.
- Brookalyn. So preschoolers have a hard time pronouncing it. But it’s where people have high ceilings, and where there are lots of trees. Good for weekend trips out of Manhattan. Enough said.
- Anti-car-culture. My wife has a car that she commutes with. But unlike most Americans, who are virtual shut-ins without their cars, we can get milk without hassling with carseats, garage-door openers, parking spots, parking lots. Our biggest concern is not stepping in dog shit on the way to the corner.
- Queens. Not to get all foodie on you, but our girl ate Chinese jellyfish tentacles (that was in Bensonhurst) and loved it; there is an endless supply of tentacle in Flushing, of tamales in Corona Park, of biryani in Jackson Heights, and on and on.
- Childbirth. Everybody lives 20 blocks or less from a hospital. Water breaks, just hop in a cab. Plus, there’s lots of gunners staffing the hospitals of New York. The come from all over the country to practice medicine here. And while you wouldn’t want to socialize with them, they get the job done.
- Pre-schools. Sure, applying to eight schools to get accepted by just two was weird. As is the colossal check we had to write for the privilege of attending said school. And really, private Manhattan preschool teachers bear a striking resemblance to the cut-rate Florida Keys variety I was taught by: they are all nice and good with kids. But look at the bright side: I got to meet Mariska Hargitay, the highest-paid actress on TV, who was trying to get her kid into the same Montessori school we were looking at. Actually, Dalia was turned down there too. Probably lost out to Mariska’s kid. Ouch.
Anything to add? Anything to subtract?