A few months ago, while mentally comparing my wholesome, sheltered youth to the crazies and scam artists of New York, I casually thought aloud to one co-worker, "You know, I could never raise my children in the City." Little did I know she grew up in Brooklyn. She had also been subjected to this very comment numerous times over the course of her life, and this time she wasn't going to take it lying down. The fuse had officially been lit.
Do children enjoy a better quality of life in the city, the suburbs, or rural communities? What an interesting debate!
Our conversation was pretty heated; I was on the receiving end of more than one insinuated jabs about us country kids spending all our time getting drunk and drugged out at pit parties. (Pit Party: a party which takes place in remote locations such as woodsy areas and dirt roads, thus minimizing interference from local authorities. In the case of a police bust, the accomodating forests double as excellent cover from search lights). Her argument was simple: because there is so little to do in the country, teens are more apt to spend their time experimenting with booze and drugs. She added, children have more opportunities in larger cities by virtue of their easy access to larger school systems and college preperatory high schools.
So here's my deal. I wouldn't trade my childhood years in Timbuktu, WI, for a million city opportunities. I love that one of my earliest memories entails me skipping down the road, completely broke out with the chicken pox, excited to see cows. Just cows. And I love that my school bus driver was the sweetest red-haired lady, who, when irked by the naughty boys, would throw them in a garbage can. I love that I not only know how to hail a cab, but also how to skin a deer and drive a forklift. I love that there were only 8 kids in my grade school class, and that three of them were cousins (I still remember most of their birthdays). I love that we had a huge playground surrounded by fields, not the fenced-in parks of NYC which remind me of dog runs. I love that our favorite game growing up was not Super Nintendo, but a game called "Orphans" in which we pretended to live under a bridge a la the Boxcar Children. I love that we kept the key to our house on a pink shoelace under a window 10 feet from the door. I love that most of my town idolized the Green Bay Packers because THAT was the only thing to do. And of course, there were drawbacks, and I did get bored sometimes, but that's life.
When I did enter the real world, it was (and continues to be) a rude awakening. And in most cases, that's a good thing. Until high school, I had no idea there were religions in the world beyond Catholicism and Lutheranism, mainly because I didn't get the exposure to diversity most city kids get. And I'm still prone to scams and scammers because I am so inherently trusting of other people. BUT! I'm learning. I sometimes wonder what my life would be like now had I grown up in the city, but truth be told, it really doesn't bother me that I'll never get to find out.