I have an eye twitch as I write this. I usually focus on the ways the tribe of Manhattan women with kids I study is different from other moms across the country and around the world. But in June I am reminded of the many similarities between contemporary privileged Manhattan childhood and motherhood and regular old childhood and motherhood in the midwest where I grew up several decades ago.
The tulips in the median of Park Avenue are back, a sure sign of spring. And a reminder that Park Avenue was at one point actually a park (before that, Park Avenue was actually a route for the New York and Harlem Rail Line. When Grand Central Depot opened in the 1870s, the rail line was sunk and covered with grates and greenery). To me the careful tending of this median — begonias in the summer, Christmas trees in the winter, sculptures in the fall — speaks volumes about the Upper East Side — its careful tended-to-ness and embrace of the traditional and the immaculate.
Peaches Geldof died, possibly of starvation. Maybe something else was going on, too. But her death, which leaves her family bereft and two little boys motherless, is a springboard for thinking about high pressure, glamorous motherhood and the standards that stress women with kids and even put them in danger. Messing up your electrolytes can give you a heart attack. Did you know that?
The annual Playground Partners Luncheon took place at the Boathouse in Central Park recently. It was a snowy day, but that did not reduce turnout at this popular event. Like grooming behaviors among female papio cynocephalus (savannah baboons), attending events is an affiliative, pro-social behavior that promotes group and dyadic cohesion. We're weren't picking bugs off each other, but we may as well have been. In attending these events, talking to one another and eating and drinking together, asking about outfits and kids and work, we are essentially reassuring, connecting with and touching one another.
What does giving up drinking have to do with billionaires who pledge to give away half their wealth? Or the Kwaikiutl potlatch ceremony in which chiefs set their most prized possessions on fire or give them away for show?
Who doesn't like Fridays? For many Manhattan parents, Friday is a "partial day" or even a "half day" — because lots of Manhattan private schools have noon dismissal every Friday. At my sons' nursery school, we used to refer to Friday as "Daddy Drop Off Day" because that practice is so common at that particular school — and so many others.
There is so much I love about this photo. As the mother of two boys, I swoon over everything pink, sparkly and girlie. Fortunately my youngest son used to love dress up, including princess attire. And I have twin god daughters. As to this photo, a little context: a Dutch friend was in town and we suggested a meet up at the bar at the Mark Hotel. I love the Mark Hotel. The location on E. 77th St is perfect as far as I'm concerned — the "near east side" is easy for a West Sider and gives the necessary feeling of being out of one's own neighborhood without ranging really far. I've lived at the Mark twice with my kids, each time during apartment renovations. My friend Isabel is the head concierge there, and they always take nice care of our family. (I spent one of the happiest Christmases of my life at the Mark, covered in hives, baking Christmas cookies on trays Jean-Georges Vongerichten let me borrow — the sugar cookies came out smelling like fish, which was entirely Jean-Georges's fault, but he ate them and very politely pronounced them delicious anyway, as did everyone else we shared them with--but that's another story)
No matter where they are and no matter where they're from, when kids land together in a community, they all do pretty much the same thing. First, they find each other. Then they form a rangy mixed-age group (a universal preference among kids). And then, they play. Their play will often resemble some type of "work," with an industrious edge or a theme of struggle and overcoming. If the group is big enough, they might form teams and work together or at odds on some imagined "task."
Louise Mensch, the former Tory MP, is something of a lightning rod for controversy in Britain. But in New York, where Mensch lives under the radar, she talks to author Dr Wednesday Martin about her forthcoming book, Beauty, which naturally leads to a discussion about beauty overseas and here, ambition, power and playground politics.