Monday, June 7, 2010

Weekend in the West Village

I take the kids all over these five boroughs, and we certainly pound a lot of Manhattan pavement. But we never end up in the West Village, Its just one of those neighborhoods we tend to overlook for some reason, though in my pre-baby years, I clocked some serious hours there -- working, shopping, rehearsing, and drinking. This weekend, though, we had a full-immersion West Village program.

On Saturday, David and I decided a little divide and conquer action was in order and I took Primo to a free avant-guard children’s theater workshop on Hudson Street. Yes, you heard me right. A college friend of mine is developing a show for kids based on Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio (the which audiobook we have listened to at least 4 million times in the car) and is enlisting the help of children ages 5-8 to do it. If you feel like having your kid join in on the fun, you can find more info on the website of their theater company, Immediate Medium. Both Primo and I were totally jazzed about it though I think Primo was a tad disappointed because I learned later he was expecting to make toys out of wood, a la Santa’s workshop.

“No, no toys, but you’re making a PLAY!” I said cheerily.

Pinocchio workshop was fun, enriching and left me feeling like a model parent. Then I took Primo to lunch at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame, which is among the most kid-friendly eateries in the city, boasting an old-fashioned candy shop in the restaurant. It also holds the honor of being the location where yours truly appeared as an extra in an episode of Sex in the City. I told Primo the story of how I got to dress up as a cowgirl-themed waitress and how I walked veeeeery slowly across the frame so that you’d be sure to see me when the episode aired. It worked, incidentally.

Then I dragged him in the sweltering heat down Bleecker Street, singing the eponymous song by Simon and Garfunkel all the while, until we got to Magnolia Bakery where we ate some pretty sub-par, dry and crumbly cupcakes. Not at all as glorious as I remembered from days of yore.

And that was only Saturday.

On Sunday, David and I decided to continue the west-village-wonderland experience and bring the kids to the World Science Festival -- free! totally free! -- in Washington Square Park. I can’t even recall the last time I stepped foot in that park but I’d be willing to wager it in high school and I was making out with someone. The kids were not terribly impressed by the super-high-tech robotics tents but thoroughly enjoyed the offerings on the far side of the park. Primo and Seconda made oil- and-colored water-and-alka seltzer volcano bottles. They learned about Bernoulli’s principle by making paper helicopters. They got these plastic bouncy straws that when pressed down on the ground, build up some terrific kinetic energy and then shoot off into the air, provoking shrieks of delight and wonder. They learned that veloceraptors did not fly but had feathers to keep warm. And they got temporary tattoos.

All of this was fun. But it paled in comparison to their experience in the fountain.

They had a total ball. Even when Primo appeared to be kicking his sister facedown in the grumy filth of wateriness. And it felt amazing to sit down with David for 15 minutes and watch the kids frolic, unfettered, with 20-30 other tiny strangers, in the park that Henry James wrote about and where I made out with boys in high school.

I love New York.