Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Learning The City

I learned New York City by running errands for my first boss. I bought gifts on Fifth Avenue, and groceries on the Upper West Side. I picked up books and caviar in Midtown and tickets at Lincoln Center. And little by little, I came to know the city--well, at least the part of it that was far beyond my own budget. I have filled in a lot of gaps since then, but those errands were how I began my transition from a suburban college graduate to a city-savvy adult.

My children, on the other hand, are New Yorkers by birth. They have lived nowhere else, and have been riding city buses since infancy (I'll admit, I waited until they were less unpredictable, and less stroller-bound to take them on the subway). They have been "learning" New York City since long before they even thought of it as "learning." And as I watch, I learn a little bit too...

They have learned the city by traveling to play dates with friends who live as far away (yet still in the city) as possible. And I have visited neighborhoods I might never otherwise have encountered.

They have learned the city by getting to school (we have rarely chosen the close, obvious ones) and back each day. And I have discovered both the efficient and inefficient ways to do those trips.

They have learned the city by watching the opening of ice cream and doughnut shops and the disappearance of their favorite restaurants (and to think, all I learned about was fancy food!)

They have learned the city by looking for Pokemons. And I have explored a few new areas, while teaching my kids to look up a little more along the way.

For my kids, learning the city isn't what it was all those years ago for me. While it was for me learning a place unlike my suburban stomping grounds, for them, it is simply exploring their own backyard. They may still have a lot to learn. But most days, I realize I still have a lot to learn myself.

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