I just flew in from New York, and boy, are my arms tired! But seriously, folks – we spent a few days in New York City (courtesy of the fine folks at VTech Toys and Ogilvy PR, for whom I do some consulting work; this time – full disclosure! – we spoke with a few good bloggers about trends in electronic toys and how kids and adults are adapting to new technology) and whoa. I’d never been to the Big Apple, and I’m still trying to sort out everything we did and saw. I’m pretty sure I ate at Da Marino on 49th (pro – a killer house-made macaroni in a lamb ragu; con – the cheesy piano player belting out “New York, New York” to a crowd of drunken Canadians), I think we walked through Central Park, I recall wandering through Times Square (where it was so cold that the balls weren’t dropping, they were retreating back up into the pelvic region), and I believe I avoiding befouling myself while atop the Empire State Building (I’m not a fan of heights). There was pastrami and pizza and beer and martinis (yo! Nathan and Matt! How you doin’?) and taxi exhaust and cigarette smoke and eau du 6 Train and damned if I didn’t fall a little in love with the city. It truly is all that and a potato knish.

We were exploring the Met (aka the Metropolitan Museum of Art) and while I was complaining to a docent about the lack of Thomas Kinkaide paintings I watched as a group of schoolkids gathered in front of one of the Greek statues (“HE’S NAKED!” we they all said in unison, as we they pointed at ancient marble Hercules’ ancient marble junk and laughed). Two conflicting thoughts ran through my head. First, how fantastic that these kids are being immersed in the worlds of Van Gogh, Rodin, the pharoahs, the ancient Chinese emperors, the natives of Oceania. I thought of my local museums and shook my head; this was culture on a scale that my kids, if they’re lucky, will only get a taste of.

But then I thought of those taxis, subways, all that noise, all those skyscrapers. When I was a kid I had meadows, forests, streams, lakes, mountains, and oceans. Nature’s for kids. The city’s for grownups. I wondered what it would be like to grow up and not take running through the grass barefoot for granted. (Stupid question, but do Manhattan high schools play football? Where?) I wondered for a brief moment if I could ever raise my kids in the big city. So the Hot Topic question for today: would you raise your kids in a big city? And for those of you who do, what are the challenges, rewards, and regrets?

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