Timeout New York Kids

Make the most of your city

Family portrait

The Collins-Trentlyon family, Chelsea

  • Tani Trentlyon, 9 and Kiku Collins

  • Photograph: Imogen Brown

  • Union Square playground

  • Chelsea Waterside Playground

  • Billy's Bakery

  • Toys "R" Us

Tani Trentlyon, 9 and Kiku Collins

Making it as a musician is tough. Making it as a musician and single mom? That sounds like an impossible gig, especially in this town. But trumpeter Kiku Collins—who trained at the Manhattan School of Music and has played with Beyonc and Michael Bolton—makes it look easy. Collins spends her downtime exploring the city with her daughter, Tani (the duo lives in a spacious, limited equity co-op in Chelsea), and is currently working on a forthcoming CD, her second solo album.

You've worked with some big acts. Does Tani ever go on the road with you?
No. I'm never away long; the longest time was about five weeks. While I'm gone, her dad or her dad's parents take care of her. We all live within three blocks of each other. Tani and I keep in constant touch. She has a laptop, and we e-mail each other and Skype. It's hysterical. I didn't even know how to use a telephone at her age! [Laughs]

Have you ever turned down any long-term tours because you're a mom?
I played with Beyonc for about a year. We rehearsed right down the street from our apartment, and we'd go on short trips. But when they said we'd be going on tour for nine months, I walked. A lot of my musician friends who don't have kids were like, "I can't believe you left that gig!" But I have no regrets.

Does single parenting leave much time for dating?
I have a boyfriend, another trumpeter, and Tani asked him to marry me.

She's quite the little matchmaker. Is Tani musically inclined like her mom?
She is. She taught herself how to read music and play the piano. We even did a commercial together for Marshalls where we both played trumpets. But like a lot of kids, she resists anything I push. When I leave her alone, that's when she starts singing or playing her harmonica.

Tani was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate. Does that impact her daily life?
No. Her repair is really amazing. I spent a fortune on it. Her doctors were very innovative and did as much as they could nonsurgically. She's only had three operations in her whole life. I'm definitely very involved in the cause. When she was born, the organization cleftAdvocate had just started. Now it's turned into an international organization called AmeriFace. I've even been on the board of directors.

You've lived in New York City for 21 years. Do you ever think about moving elsewhere?
Anything's possible...but how could I give up this apartment?—Raven Snook

Our favorite...

"When we head south, the new Union Square playground (Union Sq North between Broadway and Park Ave South) is our go-to spot. Tani can spend hours playing on the spinning carousel and scaling the big metal dome. She was frustrated the first few times, but when she was finally able to scale it, she was really proud. And so was I."

"Of course, we love Kiku Sushi (235 Ninth Ave between 24th and 25th Sts, 212-627-3660, kikusushinyc.com). Tani is a huge fan of salmon sashimi and the miso soup, too."

"The Chelsea Waterside Playground (W 23rd St at Eleventh Ave) is a must, especially in the summer. The jungle gym equipment is great for kids of all ages, and we always stop at the dog park on the way home. We love watching the pups play."

"The Dish (201 Eighth Ave between 20th and 21st Sts, 212-352-9800, thedishchelsea.com) is family-friendly and has healthy choices available—not that we always pick them. Tani usually goes for the French toast."

"There are so many colorful cupcakes to choose from at Billy's Bakery (184 Ninth Ave between 21st and 22nd Sts, 212-647-9956, billysbakerynyc.com)."

"Toys "R" Us (1514 Broadway at 44th St, 646-366-8800, toysrus.com) is a city staple. Who wouldn't want to ride a Ferris wheel and watch the dinosaur scare tourists?"

"We look forward to visiting Santa Claus at ABC Carpet & Home (888 Broadway at 19th St, 212-473-3000) every December. And of course, Tani looks forward to her birthday party at the local playground. We have pizza and cake and a piata full of toys and candy for the kids to stuff into their own goody bags."

"We like walking south, sometimes as far as the South Street Seaport. Any neighborhood along the way is fine by us!"

"On Halloween, the seal park in Chelsea [officially known as Clement Clarke Moore Park, on Tenth Ave at 22nd St] stays open late so kids can play together in their costumes after collecting treats. We also love bike riding on the paths along the West Side Highway."

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