I’m so old that I’m old enough to be a parent chaperone. The little yellow bus leads a caravan of black SUVs ferrying forty 3-year-olds from Chalkboard Preschool in Old Town (preschool perfection, by the way) on a field trip to Forest View Farms in Tinley Park. It’s City Mouse Visits the Country-- boys are in skinny jeans, girls are in sparkly nail polish, several sack lunches were acquired from the Starbucks refrigerated case, moms are conducting conference calls on iPhones behind a shed, and so on. Everything is completely new and different to the kids and everything is equally chock full of awesome. Big Pile of Dirt #4 is greeted with the same level of enthusiasm as Real Live Horse Getting a Bath. They are so easily wowed that it is both a little pathetic and fabulous.
We pet llamas, goats, pigs, lambs, chickens and more before making quick work of several gallons of hand sanitizer. The obligatory hay fight breaks out on the wagon ride to the pumpkin patch. I lose badly to clearly practiced boy and am still picking hay out of my bra. I love the confident decisiveness of toddlers: “Dis is my punkin.” You looked for 14 seconds. There are 300 pumpkins here. “Dis is my punkin.” All right, then, report back to the wagon.
All this gets me thinking about the ways in which my girl’s urban childhood differs so much from my own suburban Ohio one. There was green space everywhere I looked and I played unsupervised with friends in the woods. I took family vacations to big cities to see museums and ride a subway and spin staring at the tall buildings. She’s so city that she could serve as a competent docent at several Chicago museums and could probably get there alone on the El. But I have to strategically orchestrate her exposure to quiet, natural places and create opportunities for her to experience safe bouts of independence. It’s like she’s reverse commuting whereas I did the more traditional route. I have to believe that as long as there is love escorting her in both directions and waiting on either end, she’ll be just fine.
About the author: Ashley Corotis is a former attorney in non-profits and law school administration. She is now CEO in the worlds of her husband and kid.