What local parents are grateful for in New York City.
Tue Oct 20 2009
Photograph: Media Bakery
Yeah, yeah: We moms and dads are truly grateful for health, happiness and, of course, our kids. But we’re also indebted to lots of random places and people that manage to make raising a child here downright doable. Below, the things that are topping this year’s appreciation list.
Look, we’re just thankful for coffee. Amen. But throw in plentiful high chairs, a changing table and the mod, curvy-square ceilings of Aroma Espresso Bar (multiple Manhattan locations, aromaespressobarus.com) and you’ve got yourself a java cathedral. Aroma allows a harried parent to forsake Starbucks in favor of a truly stylish caf with better joe, smarter food and more grown-up ambience.
While we’re at it, any and all changing tables are good—if only to give us someplace clean to rest our ginormous purse/older kid’s backpack/emergency shopping. Who among us has not thanked the heavens for the ones at Soho’s Le Pain Quotidien (100 Grand St between Greene and Mercer Sts, 212-625-9009, lepainquotidien.com)? We love the communal tables, but this adult place understands that privacy is key when it comes to changing diapers—especially when mommy is hanging in a ’hood where having a schmear of baby poop on one’s pants is considered uncool.
You might think that after a day spent marauding in Prospect Park, only a masochist would go looking for school shoes, but hear us out. The huge selection (more than 27 brands! Wide sizes!) of cool footwear for kids at Windsor Shoes Too (227 Prospect Park West between Windsor Pl and 16th St, Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn; 718-499-5755) ensures a successful experience. We get to take a load off, while smart staffers shod tired kids who suddenly desire comfort after running around all day.
There is nothing to do in the Garment District, a.k.a. No-Man’s-Land, on a Saturday afternoon. We learned this while killing time as our teens were learning how to strum “Smoke on the Water” at NYC Guitar School (251 W 30th St between Seventh and Eighth Aves, 646-485-7244, nycguitarschool.com). But the recent opening of JCPenney (245 Eighth Ave at 32nd St, 212-366-4824, jcpenney.com) gave us real bargains within walking distance—and saved us from aimlessly wandering.
TAPS AND KEGS
The atmosphere at the 92nd Street Y’s Harkness Dance Center (1395 Lexington Ave at 92nd St, 212-415-5552) is so darned wholesome that after dropping our Billy Elliot at his lesson, the urge to consume carbs overwhelms us. Mercifully, nearby Brother Jimmy’s (1644 Third Ave at 92nd St, 212-426-2020) serves a hefty plate of fried chicken and a potent cheapo screwdriver that fortifies us for later, when we get to endure kiddo’s homework: heel-toe, heel-toe, tap, tap, tap.
Like everyone else, we’re most likely to take the munchkin to the playground after school and on weekends. That’s also when we encounter almost-brawls between frazzled ’rents and no-nonsense nannies over whose turn it is at the swings. Happily, at the Third Street Playground in Prospect Park (next to Litchfield Villa; enter from Prospect Park West at 3rd St, Park Slope, Brooklyn), the tyke swings are usually line-free. Newly refurbished, this tot mecca of jungle gyms, tire swings and climbable walkways has been, unbelievably, off the radar (until now), and there’s seldom a wait to push the little’un to and fro. Helpful, because we need our energy for the scrum at the hot-dog concession.
In the throes of parenting tweens who want faux-hawks and hipster bangs, we truly appreciate Rey’s Barber Shop (426 E 14th St between First Ave and Ave A, 212-473-6949). This storefront is easy to miss, but we know that ace cutter Sean gives great scissor, stylishly handling everything from first cuts to fades. And at $10 a pop, you bet we’re regulars; in fact, our kids get twice-weekly trims. Did we mention that Sean is knee-meltingly easy on the eyes?
Hearing one too many sugary renditions of “Old MacDonald” at kiddie sing-alongs has left us cross-eyed and schmaltz-scarred. We are healing, thanks to Jazz at Lincoln Center’s WeBop! music classes (Irene Diamond Education Center, Frederick P. Rose Hall, Broadway at 60th St; 212-258-9835, jalc.org). The teachers are Columbia grads in childhood learning and musical education, and the emphasis is on reaching up rather than dumbing down. Offspring come away with an appreciation for scatting, cool jazz and the masters.
Ah, date night: The moment the kids see Dad shaving and Mom putting on makeup, the tears begin. By the time the sitter arrives, we’re ready to cancel the whole thing. There is a solution: Every Friday, the gorgeous restaurant Duane Park (157 Duane St between West Broadway and Hudson St, 212-732-5555, duaneparknyc.com) transforms into a supper club complete with burlesque dancers and slick jazz trio. The show starts at 11pm, so we get ready after the nippers are safely asleep, have a late dinner and cocktails, and then embrace our inner It couple.