Mike Steere, who blogs work-at-home/stay-at-home fathering at Pater-familias , ponders a major Montclair question that you may have asked yourself…
My friend, full-on Montclair supermom – FL journalist, adjunct faculty in NYC, but still majorly involved in at-home parenting – says it’s so, so maybe it is.
The facial theater is more convincing than the words. Ever so gently she smiles and does a slow “yes” nod. The sad and inescapable fact of life look, right? In this case she affirms the Law of Family Geography, which states that there are two kinds of places and no in-between:
A) Great for children but dull and pretty much sucky for grownups.
B) Vice Versa.
Then, as if to show how deep in A) we are, our progeny pile out of their excellent public elementary school. Our little talk started while we waited for afternoon dismissal. Springlike warmth and everybody’s batso. My first-grade daughter and a couple other girls chase my friend’s younger child, a first-grade boy. After a while, God knows why, he jumps up on a bench, sheds his jacket, then takes off his shirt and waves it around. Boy doesn’t have a clue, but it’s like kiddy Chippendales. Hilarious. Except, of course, to his Mama, who breaks off to establish parental control.
She leaves me wondering if she’s right, that the truth is as simple as A) Here, because of the kids and B) New York, where practically everybody (except for us direct arrivals from elsewhere) used to live, but then came A) Here, because of the kids. Start a conversation and you know, in maybe three minutes, where in the city your interlocutor lived. You also pick up on wistfulness and longing to be back.
So would anybody be here without offspring? Does any grownup actually want to be here? And like it here?
I don’t mean crowing about the 200 (or however many) restaurants and lively arts scene and diversity and groovy blah, blah, blah that set us apart from all other suburbs. That’s realtor promo and local biz booster hype and, I’m gathering, a certain pervasive defensiveness about making the Montclair choice. I mean just, you know, liking it. And being glad to be here.
Strange how little I’ve encountered, because there’s a lot to like. This place is gorgeous.
I, for one, would like to like it like my kid, who’s all hooked up and doing absolutely fantastic. In her skin, her element, 360-degree thriving.
Anybody know how to get to where she is?
Illustration by Peter Arkle.