Time flies, kids grow, and we age. True. More than that, time flies, kids grow, and we learn. Parenting, for me, has been very different from what I imagined it to be. Actually, I am not sure I imagined anything when it came to parenting. My perception was that parenting was about ensuring that your child was fed, clean, and happy. And it is but it is also about so much more than that. Parenting is about helping your child find out who they are and providing them with the tools necessary to shine and make a difference in the world.

I found that the best way to prepare children for the real world that lies beyond the home is through instilling a basic but very important fact: the rest of the world won’t bend around you and that everyone, at times, must conform to expectations. How does one teach children to at times be defiant and at times conform? Expectations. Failure to set expectations for children to confirm to in early childhood will result in a serious shock to their emotional well-being as young adults. In our own family, we have used responsibilities, activities, and school as a means to teach about expectations.

We made, what was at that time, a difficult choice to send Sophia to pre-school. I remember doubting our choice thinking that three was really very young to end the honeymoon-like time of being a toddler at home. Besides learning baby yoga and how to papier-mâché, Sophia learned what it means to manage her own time and to function on a schedule. She learned to wake up and go to school even if she didn’t feel like it, to get dressed, and make the best of the day. Being in school and part of a larger collective means that a child has to manage themselves for a few hours each day. We are following suit with Eliza who attends a few scheduled classes a week. Looking back, I regret that we didn’t enroll Sophia into a few classes even before pre-school. Social development cannot be fully achieved solely in a home environment.

This structure and a degree of rigidity doesn’t imply that we have a stuffy environment devoid of laughter and silliness. At least one of our girls declares that “we won’t be besties” if she doesn’t get her way freely. That’s fine. I am happy to sometimes be “besties” with them and sometimes not. Responsibility and expectations may at times be quite a burden for children but it does have its rewards.

 

The here and the now (2017) ↑ and the not so distant 2014↓

Food For Thought

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Food For Thought

Food For Thought Life

Today, as it turns out, is just over a year since we moved into our home. We lived in the city before moving to our home for fifteen months having rented a block away from where we currently are in Old City. This neighborhood, however, has been home to us before—before we had kids and moved away to pursue careers in the D.C., area.

The time seems apropos to evaluate what is great and what not so great about our home, the neighborhood, and the city. The commuting logistics: we live in Old City which is also where I work on N3RD street. Evan telecommutes 3-4 days a week from home. Sophia’s school and Eliza’s extra curricular classes are a 15 minute walk or a 5 minute drive from our house. We’re big supporters of public transportation; A bus that goes directly to school is a few minute walk from our place, too.

The living logistics: our dry cleaners is a 30 second walk as are no fewer than 3 coffee shops. There’s an amazing toy store a minute away and Sophia takes classes at a great studio located 5 minutes on foot from our home. Eating out is a pleasure what with having these amazing gems nearby and we remember our engagement party every time we walk by this one. Our whole family is really into the arts so having the Arden and all the galleries nearby is also a huge treat. My favorites are the Clay Studio and The Center for Art in Wood. Come summer time, we are a two blocks away from the Franklin Fountain, three blocks from what was rated the best ice cream in the world, and a mere 10 minute walk to Franklin Square complete with a carousel and a mini-golf course.

The outdoors logistics: Philadelphia is very historic and the city has designated a lot of sites and parks as public spaces. Independence Mall is just around the corner from us and Washington Square Park is a ten-fifteen minute stroll.

And so while we have a car and a garage to house it, we don’t strictly need said vehicle. There is something to be said for walking to work and one’s commute being a mere 10 minutes. However, that something is much, much, darker when its raining, snowing, or is super windy outside. I also don’t love trash days because trash days in the city mean trash piled out on the sidewalk. I wish we had more living space but I also know that more space would mean more stuff and we don’t really need any more stuff. I am certain our girls are quite confused about what one does with a back yard seeing as how they have two small decks but no back yard of their own. They are, however, very good at navigating and know their own neighborhood very well. Sophia and Eliza are comfortable taking public transportation and aren’t overwhelmed by the freneticism of a big city. Lastly and most importantly Old City has become not just a neighborhood, but our neighborhood.

So the answer to “Are we glad we stayed in the city?” is a resounding yes. Until next time, a few years from now when we take another stock of life in the city.

Food For Thought Life