Everyone agrees the Upper West Side of Manhattan isn’t what it used to be (for better and for worse). Even kiddie residents adorably start reminiscing, “When I was little, this used to be a toy store/café/independent bookstore/vacant lot…” So what’s it like to raise kids on the Upper West Side now? Read on for our take on parenting on the UWS in 2015.
photo: Alberto B. via Yelp
1. Your food-shopping zone runs the gamut from Whole Foods at Columbus Circle to Whole Foods in the West 90s. Pirate Booty can just about last your family from one location to the other but, in cases of emergency, there’s the Trader Joe’s in the West 70s.
2. You’d like to set an example for your children about being independent, but your parents’ rent-controlled apartment is pretty sweet, and allows you to proudly keep raising a second generation of Upper West Siders. (Plus you could never afford something comparable on your own these days.)
3. You know Baby Einstein and the Mozart Effect have been thoroughly discredited, but the Very Young People’s Concerts and ABCs of Jazz at Lincoln Center can’t hurt, can they?
4. You take your child on play-dates for the critical, early years socialization skills. (And so you can check out the other family’s apartment, and find out if there’s anything available in their building and will they write you a letter of recommendation to the board?)
5. You know when all the Jewish holidays and Sabbath candle-lighting times are, even if you’re not Jewish (or even if you are “culturally”), due to store closings, and signs posted in businesses throughout the neighborhood.
6. You identify playgrounds via large animals: Hippo, dino, peeling-paint camel, and the other hippo playground. (Plus you’ve named the hippos.)
7. You know which subway stations have elevators that can accommodate strollers, and figure the ones that don’t – what could possibly be of interest to you there? You have everything you need within walking distance!
8. Your toddler can use chopsticks, pronounce tiramisu, and pick out both ‘halal’ on the falafel cart and ‘K for Kosher’ in the restaurant windows, plus they’re learning Spanish from the nanny! (Or from the other kids who have Spanish-speaking nannies.)
9. Your kiddo is on a first-name basis with Teddy Roosevelt, the giant, blue whale, and all the dinosaurs at the American Museum of Natural History.
10. In any given playgroup/preschool/enrichment class, you’ve got enough parents to start your own publishing company, including writing, editorial, marketing and PR. (Plus ample actors and directors to produce the film adaptation.)
11. The celebrity parent in your preschool is totally no big deal. (But you make sure to drop their name casually in conversation. “As I was just saying to Matt Damon yesterday….”)
photo: Russel Bernice via Flickr
12. Who needs suburban sidewalks when your whole family can ride their bikes along the Hudson River in Riverside Park? (It’s crossing the highway to get there that’s the tricky part.)
13. The neighbor kid’s stand sells organic lemonade and gluten-free cookies to raise money for Amnesty International. And can explain in great detail why.
photo: Upper 90 via Yelp
14. You need a separate inbox for all your emails from West Side Soccer League, West Side Little League, and Safe Haven West Side Basketball. Which is why the bulk of your face-to-face adult socialization takes place while you are waiting for team buses to drop off outside the Upper 90 Soccer Store.
15. 800+ people are applying for the same 45 seats in the top elementary school, progressive unzoned school and/or Gifted & Talented program (though you wonder if that family who got the spot you wanted really lives in the district, or if they’re just faking it).
16. Your baby wears an Obama (or Hillary) onesie. With a Harvard…Yale… Princeton… Cornell… Brown hat.
photo: Joe Shlabotnick via Flickr
17. You think you’re pretty awesome, pushing the stroller, juggling the coffee, and walking the dog… until you see the mom with the stroller, coffee, dog, and boogie-boarding toddler. (Which reminds you to sign up for kiddie chess classes.)
18. You read Primates of Park Avenue and have a feeling it’s probably spot on the nose (you always suspected as much.) But at the same time know that Upper West Side parents are much more complex and diverse than any book — or list — could capture.
What’s the tell-tale sign of an Upper West Side parent to you? Tell us in the comments below!
— Alina Adams