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Surviving Manhattan with a 2 Year Old

By Geniene P. (Contact)

Published October 3, 2008

Was it an act of insanity thinking I could take my 2 year old to Manhattan and have fun?  Actually, it wasn’t as painful as one might think.  Seeing the city I lived in for 14 years (and still love) through the eyes of my 2 year old daughter was fun and fabulous in many new ways.  

Creativity is key.  It didn’t occur to me that my daughter would be enthralled with NYC’s very large dog population.  I forgot how often people are out and about, walking their dogs.  I came to have conversations with just about every dog owner in our radius as she called out “doggie, doggie” and reached for their fur at the sight of every Shi Tzu, French Bulldog and Labrador in eye site.  Whether I liked it or not, I came to learn the life stories of these random strangers and their dogs every few feet.  Regardless of the person, we bonded over my daughter and their beloved pet becoming temporary buddies.  Its one of those great things about New York City that staying in the touristy/Times Square areas one rarely experiences.   

Chelsea Market was a lifesaver.  I had a eureka moment when it occurred to me that one of my most favorite food shopping venues, Chelsea Market, could be a safe haven to let my child run amok and not merely somewhere to pick up groceries.  What was once the New York Biscuit Company, is now an enclosed area of food shops and safe from the busy traffic of the streets.  I wasn’t the only parent resting on a bench in the halls of delicious smells from Eleni’s Bakery and Amy’s Breads as we watched our toddlers run and squeal with abandon.  A must-see favorite for all the children was the water flowing from a pipe near the ceiling down into a well of large, multi-hued rocks.  A bevy of toddlers stood at the railing and watched in awe at the flowing water and colorful lights angled onto the water.  It is across from Ronnybrook Dairy float shop which is a perfect stop for flavored yogurt drinks, yummy ice cream (which is the closest thing to Handel’s I’ve ever found), delicious floats and all types of milk (all organic dairy!).

The Central Park Zoo is just right in size.  Knowing my daughter’s limited attention span, I decided upon the Central Park Zoo rather than busy Time’s Square or FAO Schwartz at this stage.  She loved how the park was full of people, children and animals.  The zoo itself has the Tisch Children's Zoo where animals like goats, alpaca and sheep can be pet and fed.  Kids can even get up close to pheasants in the bird sanctuary there.  What I have found to be a great hit with my daughter, even when she was 8 months old, is the penguin room where anyone can watch the penguins, through glass, jump and swim in the arctic-like waters.  Squeals of laughter and glee reverberate as children watch the penguins waddle and dive.  What she found to be the funniest thing about the zoo was the word “baboon”.  She kept saying “buhboom, buhboom” after I pointed them out and still will say buhboom when she now sees monkeys. 

The city itself is diverse entertainment.  For my daughter, seeing fearless pigeons and squirrels walking within 2 feet of them is quite exciting.  The sight of big yellow taxis (just like in her books) led to squeals of “taxi, taxi, taxi” all day long.  When she got to ride in one sitting on my lap, it tickled her immensely.  Best of all, my child is fascinated with cars and a suhweet Ferrari sportster sidled up next to us in the Village.  She was all agog staring at its sleek blackness.  I said “Honey, that’s a Ferrari, you won’t see anything like that in Youngstown.” as she just took in its fabulousness.

Fearful that I would miss my “Sex In The City”-like days, it was like a visit with a therapist as I pushed my child’s stroller around the West Village and The Meatpacking District and didn’t yearn to be among the young and chic at all.   I was happier to have my beautiful little girl, wearing comfortable shoes and seeing the city through her eyes than I ever was clubbing, brunching or shopping in all my years in the city.


1rpaulson(2 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Oh but you do sound like Miranda, now. How nice.

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2pennysmom(8 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

you trip sounds like it was wonderful magic. i look forward to taking my daughter to NYC hopefully soon. thanks for all the great ideas! I think she will love the penguins too. i know i always did when I visited the city.


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3ff55(2 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Well, I'm glad you and your daughter enjoyed NYC. It can be an exciting way to spend some time. The idea of spending time with my toddler in the big city is daunting, and I hope she responds as well as your daughter. I want to, however, mention that your condescending tone is sort of offensive to some of us. No, a Ferrari isn't a common car in Youngstown, but guess what? THEY DO EXIST HERE. We also have Rolls Royces, Lamborghinis, and Jaguars. I'm personally amazed that a 2 year old even NOTICES the make and model of cars, unless mommy has been filling her head with materialistic goals and attitudes, hardly what I'd expect from reading your other blog entries. Get over yourself.

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4projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

My child loves cars and I have never done anything to promote this. Since she first found my dad's collection of toy cars, she has been enthralled with them and all cars. He gets Motor Trends magazine and she just gravitated to it (amongst the pile of his other magazines) and sits, looking at the cars. We actually joke that she'll be the next Danika or a car designer. I can't help she appreciates Ferraris, taxis and all types of automobiles. As far as foreign luxury cars in the Youngstown area are concerned, they really are far and few between in a town that prides itself on purchasing American made automobiles (plus, you aren't usually standing on the sidewalk with one 3 feet away). I have seen Jags but have rarely seen the other makes you mention in all my years growing up here and coming back to town (except at car shows at Idora Park or at the Southern Park Mall). There is nothing wrong with teaching a child about different levels of luxury vs. affordable vs. something to look at and admire for design as they grow. One doesn't go to a museum thinking that you are teaching your child to purchase priceless art. I'll just leave it at that.

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5projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

I have to wonder, would the car thing have been an issue if I was a man pointing out a Ferrari to my son? Hmm . . .

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6tylersclark(182 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

As for cars, I think Jaguars and Rolls are far more common. My luxury sports car sightings here are few and far between, but then I'm not your typical guy and don't tend to notice stuff like that. And, hey, women can (and do) like cars, so I wouldn't have picked up on that sentence except for the previous comment. Plus, I've met your daughter, who is perfectly well adjusted!

As for NYC, I miss it and hope to get back for a visit soon. There's something about the big city that can't be replicated anywhere else. No shame to Youngstown, of course. Each is what it is. I wouldn't give up Youngstown for NYC, either.

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7ff55(2 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

I'm female, I notice cars (was brought up reading Hemmings Motor News, hung around race tracks, etc) so the fact that it was your daughter was not an issue. Yes, we buy american cars here (without Lordstown we're up a creek) and no, the high end luxury cars are not commonly seen. But they ARE seen.

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8lucy(123 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

My girls love NYC, and I do, too. We went in August, and we stayed on 79th and spent much of the weekend in Central Park. It was an amazing time. I laughed at the part about the dogs. My five-yearold loves meeting city dogs too. I always wonder how people live in the city with children. When I see moms on the subway with strollers, it seems like such a feat for day-to-day life.

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9projectgeniene(87 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

Lucy - I actually have attempted the subway with my daughter. When she was tiny (we moved back when she was 3 months old), it was easier because I just strapped her on me in a Baby Bjorn. People were so nice and I felt like a celebrity because I was constantly asked about the baby when I sat down, at every corner and wherever I went. It was amazing to feel such warmth from perfect strangers.

This last trip I went on the 8th Avenue line from 14th St. to W. 79th St. (our old home). Again, a lovely Middle Eastern man helped me with my stroller down into the subway. Uptown, another man instantly asked if I needed help going up the stairs. I didn't even have to ask. I often saw that chivalry when I lived there. Pre-baby days, I would also help mothers with strollers knowing how difficult it would be for them. When you live in NYC, you often acquire this "help each other out" mentality because one has to live in such close approximation with one another. I actually miss this about the city.

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10pennysmom(8 comments)posted 7 years, 1 month ago

about the car:
what's wrong with appreciating beautiful things? one doesn't have to know the price of something to appreciate it!!!

keep writing geniene! love your posts!!!

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