Is New York City such a scary place? I live in Oregon. I don’t think so. Perhaps the East coast girl in me is deeply rooted. I spent my earlier years in Philadelphia. My mom worked in “the city” as in New York City. She had no problem throwing us girls on a train and heading into the city for the Macy’s Day parade or the St. Paddy’s Day parade. She loved dressing her girls up for trips into the city to shop.
Imagine the cringes my Oregon folks had when I told them I was taking three of my kids on a business trip with me. “New York City, it’s such a scary place.”
I was working with several clients who were to have their kids clothing lines in the annual Vogue Bambini Fashion Show. My daughter worked as my assistant on many of my trips away from home. She was well-traveled, understood her role as merchandiser, coffee girl, and little person caregiver. She is the second of five and the glamor of a trip with mom meant the fun a big city offered, shopping trips, and room service. This particular trip, to New York City was for 7 days. She often gained a new outfit, and the experiences of city life in a big city.
My son, the oldest was needed as hands on for slugging merchandise, and working closely with the Vogue team to get the event set up. My three-year old was going to walk the runway of this event modeling some clothing from a key designer, so I took three of my five kids across the country to that big city we all hear about, New York City. A 17, 15 & 3-year-old. Some might think me to be crazy, however I love a great adventure of any kind.
In having your children travel and be part of your business, they learn important life skills in a big city. They do not learn that it’s a scary place, a place to fear. For example, know your destination, or pretend to know your destination with a cabby.
If you jump in a cab all confused as to where you are to go, you will most likely pay a $40 dollar fair. That can be scary if you have a tight budget, or only went 3 blocks. Rather, clearly state, “I am going here, I know it’s just up the road and don’t want to pay more than $5.00, then lean in and so far every single time the cabby says hop in. When I get to my destination he asks for $5.00 and typically I will tip extra one’s. Kids learn from this.
New York City is safe if you know where and how to navigate. Not that I learned this right away. I ended up across the George Washington Bridge, and after a few wrong turns ended up in Brooklyn.
Cars jacked up, and dudes walking all big and bulky. I could run scared or find a public, or more public area to get myself some directions. Your response, as a parent is either going to teach that this place is scary, or teach how to be safe, not stupid. I did find a public area with lots of people. A big dude, no kidding 6’8, because I asked, came out to my car. He kindly said this, “sweety you is in the wrong place.” He then gave me specific directions back to Manhattan. In hindsight that was a little scary, but I told the kids we are just going to smile, be kind and ask questions first.
One night, the kids asked if they could wander around Time Square for the late evening. I felt completely safe and confident that they were familiar enough with the lay of the land. We were in a hotel by Rockefeller Center, and these were the days when your kids did not own cell phones. Off they went. I called my husband around 1am and told him the kids had not returned.
He was confident that with Elliot and his boldness and Emily and her keen sense of direction, they were not lost. He reminded me that even at 1am it feels like 1o:00pm in New York City. Shortly after the phone the kids showed up and had many stories to tell.
New York City, from the perspective of a weird, Portland, green, organic “tree-hugging” state can seem a little scary. I am happy to report that it is not. It is actually a place where you sit down, grab a slice of pizza and chat with the person at the next table. You then take a walk up the street. Look up at the sign and smile.
There is always time for a walk through Central Park. The beauty of this city is easy to discover. There is no fear in discover.
Being in any city can be scary if you are not familiar, aware, and cognizant of your surrounding. For example this guy here…he is someone’s son, or brother, or father. To a three-year old it’s a lovely place for a man to take a nap. To the teenagers, it’s not scary to see someone down and out. It gives them a piece of reality that times can be hard for all of us.
Why, at this late hour am I writing about New York City? Asking the question of it being scary? On this end of the country, these parts of the Northwest as we are tucked in our small town with a city that is maybe a mile wide and long, I love to ponder and then embrace the cities of my travels that always brought me joy, experiences, and fun with both my children and business. New York City is not a scary place. It is one of my favorite cities. That coming from a Phili girl turned Portland girl.
What is one of your favorite cities?