Back in New York, and fully functional after 9 1/2 hours of sleep! So nice to be in our apartment again, to be unpacked, have clean laundry and fresh groceries. Ahhhh.
We always enjoy our trips to my family in Indiana, especially in summer when the kids can play outside on the farm and spend hours at the beautiful public pool, but as soon as we are back in the city, as Maya says, “I can breathe again.”
My kids are very thankful for their family and time in the country, but it is interesting that as they get older they make some observations about things that I didn’t notice until I was an adult. Particularly Maya, whose powers of observation are extremely keen, to put it mildly.
(DISCLAIMER: We are generalizing and giving an overall impression rather than stating that each and every person fits the following descriptions.)
She noticed on this trip, for instance, that people do not seem to take much care for their appearance. In New York, you can pretty much wear anything and no one will blink an eye, but that manifests in wild outfits carefully chosen, instead of sloppy clothes that are ill-fitting. And it’s not a function of income, either. The ‘unkempt-ness’ crossed all borders.
Maya’s second observation? People complain a lot more there. About everything from the price of gas to the heat to whatever travesty is being reported in the local paper. A LOT. I was struck by this as well, so maybe it has gotten worse recently. And I understand that in a weak economy people have more concerns and fears, but this complaining seemed more habitual. People in New York complain about things as well, of course, but not to the degree or with such vehemence. (At least in the circle of people we see on a regular basis, including my local Starbucks baristas, street vendors and beat cops I know by name.)
And finally, the other kids. On this trip, since we spent a lot of time at the pool, my kids would regale me with stories of their interactions with other children who were swimming, going down the water slide, jumping off the diving board, etc. For instance, Maya told of sitting next to a girl waiting for the lifeguard break to be over so that they could go on the rock climbing wall in the deep end of the pool. From where they were sitting, Maya couldn’t see the clock to check how much time was left in the break. She noticed that the girl next to her was wearing a watch. The conversation went like this:
Maya: Can you wear that watch in the water?
Maya: That’s neat. Can I see what time it is?
Hmm. All right, then. Later that day, also waiting on the rock wall, Maya was standing in line and was in front of a different girl while Ben made his first attempt at the wall.
Girl: He doesn’t know how to do this, does he?
Maya: No, he just hasn’t done it very much and hasn’t gotten the hang of it. (then, to Ben) Go, Ben!
Girl: Go, Baby?
Maya: No, I said ‘Go Ben’.
At that point I signaled to the kids that it was time to go, but Maya wanted one more climb up the rock wall. There was one boy in front of her in the line, so she tapped him on the shoulder and asked if she could go first, since she had to leave. He said no.
Girl: You know, if you ask somebody if you can go in front of them, they’re not going to say ‘yes’.
Maya: Well, they might. How would I know?
Girl: Well they wouldn’t. See, ‘Can I go in front of you?’
Maya decided it was best to ignore her from then on.
Ben also had a few run-ins with kids, mostly centered around the fact that he was wearing his goggles on the diving board. Each time he would explain that I had cleared it with the manager. Once he left the line because the boy behind him kept on him about it, and not in a nice way.
What is up with that?! We’ve been to public pools here in the city, and in movie theaters and lots of places where there is a general kid population, and for the most part everyone is polite. Neither of my kids have ever gotten in to that type of exchange with a child they don’t know, except in Indiana. (And that includes when we’ve spent time in Ireland and Wales at indoor playgrounds, or in various other locales far away from NYC.)
It’s weird, because as I said a few days ago, the lifeguards were all great, especially the one who took care of Ben when he got stung. None of them had a problem with him or the goggle issue once their manager ok’d it, and they were friendly and generous.
I don’t mean to paint NYC as this perfect place with no flaws. We have many, many flaws and moments of ridiculous-ness (for instance, the day before we left for Indiana, most of Times Square was shut down for HOURS because some guy managed to climb up one of the street lamps and just sat there, refusing to come down. A local radio station took a poll from viewers on what the NYPD should have done to get him down. Answers ranged from ‘hire a stripper’ to ‘just shoot him’).
I could spend lots more space listing all the bad things here in the city, but what I see in my daily life is that, for the most part, people have a sense of humor about things that are out of their control and try not to get too wrapped up in the negatives. Or maybe I’m making this all up? I just don’t think so. Am I going to Indiana with a view to being critical? Not at all. I love the fact that we have an amazing place to spend time with my family, where my kids can experience a little of what I had growing up – space to roam and explore unsupervised.
I don’t have the answer as to the negative energy we experience when we’re there – where it comes from or why it seems more pronounced. I guess the lesson is to do what we do here at home; enjoy the good and don’t let the bad things get you down.