As we get ready to leave the bay area, there are a lot of things we are going to miss. The weather. The produce (you know, fruit). My daughter’s friends. My friends (whom hopefully I will keep in touch with). My department. My students. Being close to West Coast friends more generally (I have close friends in L.A. and Seattle; it’s been so nice to see more of them). This list is not complete and it is not in order, or else friends would precede fruit. In terms of negatives, I will not miss skateboarders who seem intent on running over my child, but beyond that I have few complaints. As I mentioned, I was alone with my daughter for a good portion of my west coast time and some things (like certain people) have made a big difference. Another thing that has made a huge difference is Habitot. They have two areas that involve books for children, a reading room and a “baby garden” in which there are books for very little ones (20 months and under). We’ve enjoyed the books in both areas. They also have a library for parents of books on child-raising and other things. They have a “toy library” that has been amazing because you can take out toys for three weeks and then return them. It’s genius. Why do more places not do this?
Especially as a “single mom” (albeit temporarily) it has been wonderful to have a place like Habitot to go, where my daughter felt comfortable, open rain or shine (6-7 days a week, depending on the season). There are all sorts of parents and caregivers (nannies, grandparents, others) coming through. I got to have conversations with adults in person on days when otherwise I might not have. The staff is amazing (they greet my daughter by name and are so sweet and creative). A mix of kids go, so my daughter learned from older kids and a little about how to treat younger kids, getting to see and interact with a lot more people than she would have otherwise. When she started school they commented on how comfortable she was immediately with groups of kids, and I think a large part of that is thanks to Habitot. She had access to totally different art supplies than she does at home, her Habitot art decorates our kitchen (see above) and the creativity of the art room projects helped me learn what kind of different stuff she was really excited by (at different ages). I realized how incredibly special Habitot was, when I spent some time in New York. There are tons of resources and centers for kids in the city, but . . . a lot of them are insanely expensive (yeah, rent is high in NYC; it is in Berkeley too!), some of them do not allow you to drop by for a one day visits, some of them (like the children’s museum on the west side) are great but can be kind of overwhelming for a younger child (and the crowds, oh the crowds). In addition, Habitot is really invested in its community: it has great classes for kids, talks for adults, and all sorts of interesting community programs. Habitot, like its staff, really cares. I cannot say enough good things about it. I know this didn’t have a lot to do with children’s books, but it has a lot to do with the often discussed “imaginative play” and they are related. Do you have a favorite children’s museum or place to take your kids? In other words, what is your “habitot”? Do you have memories of going to a children’s museum or something similar from when you were younger?
These photos are from a range of ages, which you can tell by the varying degree of hair.