Some days in New York are very exciting. Traffic is jammed, there's some kind of dignitary visiting, a worldwide protest of something is going on at the U.N., or there's a huge sporting event. It's what makes living in the city fun, interesting, and sometimes overwhelming.
I grew up in a suburb in South Carolina. Not much went on there and I was really anxious to get out and explore the world. Since then, I haven't exactly done a world tour, but I've lived in or near several big cities: Atlanta, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC, and of course, New York. Each has its own unique charm and benefits, as well as drawbacks. As a father, I recall always wanting to raise a family close to a large city for the cultural benefits as well as the world prospective it would provide my children. Granted, New York is a lot bigger, faster, and more expensive than anywhere I would have chosen to settle down, but it is home and I'm feeling mostly comfortable now.
I guess I'm thinking of this because of the recent Facebook contact I've had with old high school friends. A few of them, like me, got out and explored the world not turn. A few left for a while but returned to raise families. Most stayed and haven't lived anywhere else. While that's a nice thing for them (erg. stability, roots in the same place, predictability, etc.) I find it somewhat limiting in scope. As I've talked to some of them, they are amazed at things that I now take for granted: living in a high rise apartment building; not owning or needing a car; the sheer volume of people; or the ethnic diversity.
I want my little one to grow up with a "world view," primarily because when I got to college, I realized how small the world had been for me the 18 years prior. Most of the kids I went to college with were from the DC area. They knew a ton about politics, economics, different cultures, and the arts. I felt really behind. Miss M, growing up in NYC, obviously isn't going tho have that problem, but she will be missing out on how most of the rest of the country lives.
NYC is so unique in it's every day experience and I've noticed people who grow up here (Manhattan specifically) are just a bit "off." They're almost afraid of the rest of the country. Seems strange right? That's not how I want Miss M to be. I've been doing my best to show her "Normal America" by visiting my parents and sister in SC but there has to be more.
I think attitudes and values start at home. There are a plethora of things to do here with my little one and exposing her to all of it I feel is really important. I want her to be a well rounded person who feels comfortable in any situation, in any place. Traveling to other places, experiencing other people and cultures, and teaching acceptance of those "different" seems the way to go.
So parents, how do you teach your little ones about the rest of the world, especially on a limited single parent budget? How do we show our kids the world, teach them about others different than them, and make sure they are well rounded enough to make informed decisions about their own path in life? My question for the day...