summer in the city


This is the Bee’s last week of going to day camp at our local kids’ science museum. It’s a place that’s close to my office, and it’s been kind of nice commuting with her again. After I dropped her off today, I was on the way to work, and I started thinking about how glad I am that she’s having this experience.

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post that was sort of loosely on the subject of race and the suburbs. My gladness with the Bee’s summer experience is related to that. We live outside of one of the biggest cities in the country, and yet I know quite a few folks who go there maybe once a year. For the most part, middle class folks where I live aren’t always eager to go into the city. They complain about the parking, complain about the traffic, and the crime, but they don’t really spend time there, they just repeat what they see on the local news.

I’ve worked in this city for seven years, and yet when I go there with my kids, I’m able to see it with new eyes. When the Bee was a toddler, and still came to work with me at least once a week, we would pass a huge mural on the way to my office. Every time, she would point out the ‘dragon hair woman’ to me, and I would see it afresh.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the Bee complains about sitting in traffic as much as any commuter does. But having her in the city with me means we get to stop at the local roach coach at the end of the day to grab a water or a snack. Or she takes off her sandals and walks through a fountain (hopefully without falling on her butt and getting all wet, which did happen once). Or we get to have, as we did today, a conversation about birth control (how do I get into these conversations? I’m not really sure.).

I’m glad that she won’t grow up intimidated about going there. But you can check back in nine years–I may have changed my mind when she’s figured out how to get there by herself on the train.

* Picture courtesy of


August 15, 2006. growing up, thoughtful parenting.


  1. christie replied:

    kids are great
    they make us look at our every day in a whole new light and that’s such a wonderful gift 🙂

  2. elise replied:

    I really like to see things through kid’s eyes too. It seems just when you start to get old and cynical, they bring you back to a more innocent time!

  3. chip replied:

    it’s funny, I live in a very small city, yet people who live out in our burbs and in the countryside feel the same way, that it’s a dangerous awful place with bad traffic and crime — I think the key is race here.

    Anyway, I loved taking my kids to NYC, and not just the touristy parts either, you’re right, you see things through new eyes. And though both have spent almost their entire lives in our little city, they also both love NYC. We’ll have to bring them to Philly one of these days…

  4. Krissy replied:

    I miss living by NYC. We live MUCH further south now and I truly miss it.

  5. Jennifer replied:

    I lived in Portland for 7 years, been in Bend for only 4 — but each time I return to the city, I find I’m more and more tentative. Everything keeps changing, the traffic keeps getting worse, where the heck am I going? Actually even when I lived there I’d stash the car in a parking garage (or leave it at my house), preferring to _walk_ wherever I needed to go rather than deal with traffic. But anyway I think I can understand why people who have never lived in a city would be afraid to go there, and cloak their fear in excuses.

    I envy you your science museum. You don’t live in PA, do you?

  6. Mary Tsao replied:

    I love taking my kids into The City (capital letters indicate I’m talking about San Francisco!)

    A purely suburban experience would be … boring and sheltered. I grew up outside Chicago and I vividly remember rides on the El train into the city. I saw things outside those windows that have stayed with me forever. One thing that stayed with me is how the projects we were passing were devoid of trees. Coming from one of those suburbs with tree-lined streets, that made an impact in a small but very real way.

  7. Ashley replied:

    our city is big enough and up until the last few years I wouldn’t have taken my kids downtown due to crime if nothing else. Fortunately, they’re working on that and now I’m enjoying doing stuff with them down there (the aquarium is just one thing).

  8. Carrie replied:

    That’s so great that you are able to take her in with you. I really want to take advantage of the city life while we are living so close to DC, and we used to go in all teh tiem before Erik was born. Maybe we will start going again once the weather cools a little.

  9. kdubs replied:

    I love this post. I agree and I appreciate your passion. We are the same with our kiddlins. Braxton lives in an area where there are ALL kinds of people and he’s not afraid of anyone who is different. I love it. It’s interesting now that my hubs is hispanic and we get a lot of looks when we go to happy swell meadows LOL. 🙂

  10. Tracey replied:

    My kids love coming to the city. It’s great because their grandmother lives in the city, and next week we’re even going to their first Broadway show.

    I love that my children have the best of both worlds – a suburban home with a backyard and neighbors, and the cultural mecca of one of the greatest cities in the world.

    Nice post!

  11. penguinunearthed replied:

    I live in the inner city, and since we had children, we’ve been to town heaps more than we used to. It’s so great to be able to go to all the museums. I’m always astounded when I mention our science and technology museum to people with small children and they’ve never been. But, to be fair, for me it’s a 10 minute train trip (or 20 minute ferry trip – even nicer) which is an event in itself, rather than a commute.

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