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.