Monday, November 23, 2009

City Kids, Country Kids

Ok, maybe not country, but definitely suburban. Once upon a time, we lived in New York City. There, our children were exposed to so many things on a daily basis. We would wander over to the Met or the Guggenheim and look at the pretty works of art. We’d wander through Central Park and listen to fairy tales being told by the Hans Christian Andersen statue. We could also hear many musicians playing their instruments throughout the park and see many artists sketching or painting. There would be dancers performing.

B and A took a class call Mini Mozarts. I am not even going to admit here what that class cost me. However, it was worth every penny. The teachers were 20 somethings trying to make their living on Broadway. So, each class, they played instruments and sang adorable children’s music to my two year olds. Needless to say, we got one amazing performance each week. I do think that this class, along with others we took while in Manhattan, really formed the base for B and A’s musical interest. Since we’ve been back in the suburbs of Chicago, there have not been the same opportunities for R. Sure, she’s taken the Kindermusik classes at the park district and such, but it’s not nearly the same quality. However, she still likes music and for that I am grateful.

So, this weekend, we took all three children into the city to hear the Chicago Symphony Orchestra perform a special children’s series titled Mother Goose and More. It was part of a wonderful series that the symphony is putting on for children. They did an excellent job engaging them for an hour. B and A were mesmerized by all of the instruments. They began to play piano last year and this was very interesting for them. To give her credit, R did an amazing job sitting quietly and listening to the music. I couldn’t believe how well it held her attention for just turning three. Of course, it helped us immensely that they included a Cinderella waltz and her face just about lit the room at this.

When we arrived in the lobby, the symphony was promoting their music school. A girl, who was maybe 9 years old, sat down at a grand piano in the entryway and played the most unbelievable piece of music. She did a fantastic job with it. There were a few pauses here and there, but for her age I couldn’t get over the fact that she could play that complex of a piece. T and I were instantly reminded, again, of the difference between living in the city versus the suburbs. This was a decision we’ve struggled with when we moved back to the area a few years ago.

In the city, you have more options with your children. The schools, the lessons, the culture that they are exposed to on a daily basis are much greater usually in diversity and in quality to some extent. In the suburbs, they have other options though. They can run free to some extent. At seven they have the freedom to not hold my hand everywhere we go. They have more independence. They have more room. They are a little more innocent based on what they see on a daily basis. While we love the city, we chose the suburbs in the end. I’m still not sure if that was the right choice. But, it’s the one we’ve made. For now. And every time we go back, it pulls at my heart strings a little more.

*I am not being compensated by or endorsing Kindermusik, Mini Mozarts or the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.


  1. I feel the same way about leaving the city. Exactly. It's almost painful for me every time we venture into San Francisco from our suburban town. But I know in my heart we're in the right place for our kids.

  2. I do understand...we are only 40 minutes away from Denver but hardly ever go down there...and my kids love the museums and the cultural offerings there. It's a sacrifice, I guess, and we've made it, but I should try harder to get them "out" more.

  3. I've never lived in a big city..but I sure do love to visit. We're coming your way this weekend...just me and the boys!! Can't wait...I love the hustle and bustle and to show the kids the "city"!!

  4. Not that there is ever a right or wrong choice but I think you have the best of both worlds -- the ability to run and play in the suburbs and the time and proximity to enjoy the big city whenever you can.

  5. I know what you mean... there are definitely advantages and disadvantages to both the city and the suburbs, and its hard to choose which is better overall. I like where we live because it just feels less crowded and more peaceful, but there are definitely less opportunities out here than in the city!

  6. Having just left nyc, i now love being in the suburbs but only a 1/2 hours from everything the city offers.