17 different women, 36 crazy children, 0 babies in utero
Adventures, Advice and Questions from a group of Mormon women who met in Queens, NY and have now scattered all over the place.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

If I Were Mayor of NYC....

(Author's Note: This post is the latest installment of an ongoing, unofficial "Tribute To New York City" series we having going here at TFtC. Check out the rest of the series here and here.)

New York is an amazing place to live. There is more excitement and culture contained within one city block than in the sum total of many other American cities. But let's face it ladies, it isn't the safest nor easiest place to raise kids. Every mom in New York has at least once uttered the words, "If I were in charge around here..."

My election as the next NYC mayor is not a likely scenario for many reasons: I haven't held a political office since 8th grade student council at Floyd Light Middle School, many of my husband's relatives run around the U.S. picking berries and washing dishes illegally, and, oh yeah... we are officially no longer NYC residents. Nevertheless, these are some changes I would make:

1. All subway stations must have functioning elevators. No more schlepping strollers up and down crowded and often wet concrete stairs. I would call this "Marian's Law."

2. Existing subway elevators (few and far between, located only at major city hubs) would be replaced and subject to daily fumigation (or at least very intensively cleanings). Anyone who has dared to enter a NYC subway elevator understands the high toxicity level of these places.

3. All cabs would contain at least one car seat that could be easily stored in the trunk when not-in-use. How many of us have darted across the city holding a small baby while PRAYING that nothing happens? It's legal in NYC for children to ride in cabs without car seats, but not any less safe, and unfortunately, it's pretty much impossible for a parent to shlep around a car seat in the city.

4. All of those horrid storefront trap doors would be permanently LOCKED! Anyone who has spent time in the city knows what I am talking about. In NYC, every business has a cellar located directly underneath the storefront used for storage. Metal doors ON THE SIDEWALK access the cellar from underneath. I have peered down many o' cellar doors and the fall is LONG and HARD. Workers are loading and unloading goods through these doors all day long, and these doors are often left WIDE OPEN. If you (or heaven forbid, your child) isn't paying close attention, it would not be difficult to fall into one. I often wonder how prolific these accidents are, although I have to admit, I've never heard of an actual incident. Regardless, more than once I woke out of bed in a cold sweat after dreaming that one of my children had fallen into one.

5. All traffic violations that result in putting young children in danger (i.e. failing to stop at stop signs and red lights, turning into the crosswalk with children or strollers crossing) would result in triple fines and a suspended driver's license for the violating driver. And, oh yeah, if I were mayor, traffic violations would actually be enforced.

I have to remind myself now that I'm out of the city that I need to actually follow traffic laws....but it is nice to be able to cross streets with my kids without having my stomach in knots.

6. I would also institute "pee-for-a-fee" bathrooms around the city. For 50 cents (no charge for kids), you would be guaranteed a clean and safe restroom environment for those "in-the-city" bathroom and diapering emergencies. Each restroom would also have an attractive "mother's room" for moms who want to breastfeed with a little privacy....like at church, but without the smelly diaper bin and leftover-from-the-1970's rocking chair. The men's restroom would also have changing tables.

Fifty cents, you say! Well, I would have paid many times that amount...especially when I was pregnant. It would have saved me a lot of logistical planning. Both of my babies camped out on my bladder so I always made sure I was within a 20 block radius of a Barnes & Noble whenever I was in the city.

Any additional laws you can think of that need to be enacted to ensure a new, child-friendly New York?


  • I'm so very honored that your first official act as mayor would be named in my honor! For those that don't know, I fell carrying Max in his stroller on the subway stairs (wet from rain) and hit my head hard enough to necessitate the calling of an ambulance and a trip to the ER for some stitches. Max was fine, he was strapped in with a 5-point harness and fell right back to sleep after someone picked up his stroller and put it right-side up. It was made all the more intersting by the fact that it was Max's 1st birthday... Needless to say, I'm a big proponent of USING YOUR 5-POINT HARNESS PROPERLY!

    I can't think of any more laws right now, you've done a great job of covering the essentials! One of the things I never really thought about until I had a baby in a stroller is how unfriendly NYC subways are for anyone in a wheelchair or with limited mobility. You'd really be limited to a few subway stations, and even then you'd have to use those putrid elevators. Made me appreciate the fact that, even though it was hard, at least I could pick Max up and haul him up and down the stairs. Not everyone has that option.
    posted by Blogger marian at 3/26/2006 05:07:00 PM  

  • Jen. AWESOME post...and thanks for keeping up with the tribute to NYC tradition every month.

    1. Barnes and Noble though often lifesavers are NOT my fave bathrooms. I love a Times Square McDonalds or Toys R Us (pretty clean ladies), and Old Navy. I have even used one in hardware store in the middle of nowhere Manhattan and said my kid had to pee (it was really me)...that works really well.

    2. Besides being assaulted a few times myself on the subway platforms (never with my kids present), my scariest kid moment was when I was holding Pukey's hand (she was close to 3) and we were almost to the top of a tall staircase (Astoria Blvd. stop). She had a jacket with a hood on, and someone rushing down the stairs got their pole-like item (maybe an umbrella or tripod I think it was) caught in her hood, taking her with him. She was literally parellel to the step and went from a standing up to a lying down postion, but suspended in the air. I had her hand SO tight...that she did not fall or hit anything. He realized it only when he could not travel any further or faster without dragging both of us with him, and he helped me get her to the upright position again. It was scary and I was steamed. He must have been late for something, b/c I don't know that he even apologized.

    3. We have gotten good at holding our breath in the elevators...for me it's hit or miss...sometimes they are bad, sometimes not. Maybe I am just used to the smell.

    4. Traffic violations. It's true, I drive differently when I am not directly in the city. It's not that I break the law, but I realize that people on the outskirts are not nearly as aggresive. I have gotten two totally ridiculous parking tickets, and one was when I was waiting for a fellow mother to schlepp a new crib mattress out of a store (that she needed to replace because of an infestation of bed bugs) and I got a ticket for being parked in a bus stop even though I never left my vehicle, and could move the car if a bus were to come, at any time. Needless to say I fought and WON. But come on, a mother with bedbugs? Get a life NYC cops...

    Venting over.
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/26/2006 06:03:00 PM  

  • I love it Jen. These changes would be awsome! I especially love the elevator at every station. I always used the elevator in Union Square but always had to haul the stroller up two flights of stairs while pregnant in Sunnyside. Sometimes I got help from strangers and sometimes I made Nephi walk, but it was easier to keep track of him if he was buckled in somewhere.

    I would also like a law about the parking. One in which you don't have to move your car twice a week for street cleaning and you always have a space near your house. Not sure what that law would actually say though.
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 3/26/2006 08:53:00 PM  

  • On the traffic violations thing Kage mentioned, I am still bitter (2 years later) about a ticket we got. It was for double parking at 2AM in an industrial part of Queens that I have never been to. And then when we looked it up the cross street where they said we were parked don't even intersect. It was a total LIE. But because our protest and request for a hearing got lost in the mail and finally returned to sender unopened we missed the protest date and had to pay $200 that we never got back. I am still mad about that. But I still love the city
    posted by Blogger Brandolyn at 3/26/2006 08:59:00 PM  

  • Ah, now here is a post I can get into. Making it easier to be a mom in NYC is right up my alley. I totally agree with all of the changes and here are a few of my own, if I were co-mayor.

    1. I would make it against the law for people you don't know to give you parenting advice. I can't tell you how many people (nannies in particular) have LOUDLY told me what I'm doing wrong as a mom. "That boy is too old to be in diapers... what is he, 13?" (He was two at the time) or "That boy is too old for a blankie!" (Why is it any of your business?) I'm not sure; maybe this happens all over the country but I SWEAR it's worse here in NYC.

    2. Citizens would be allowed to write tickets for people who don't clean up their dog poo. If I let my kid poo on the street, everyone would FREAK OUT but in my neighborhood, folks just lets their dogs poo all over and leave it for my kids to walk in. The worst is when it gets in your stroller wheels.

    3. People who remove your laundry from the dryer at the laundromat before the time is up should be immediately thrown in jail.

    4. There would be a person at both ends of the Brooklyn Bridge to quiz people on which side pedestrians belong on, and which side is for bikes. Why is this so hard to figure out?

    I should probably stop before this gets out of hand.
    posted by Anonymous scoutmaster at 3/27/2006 02:27:00 PM  

  • Scoutmaster,

    I'm liking your list a lot...especially #1. I really do think it is worse in NY. On the same trip out I would get, "You need more clothes on that kid, he's going to catch a cold" and "He looks too warm...take a layer off of him!" It was pretty ridiculous but never ceased to annoy me.
    posted by Blogger Jen at 3/28/2006 07:20:00 PM  

  • Scoutmaster, my fave #1 was when a lady kept literally breathing down my neck at my baby sound asleep in the bjorn. Her nose was pressed against my chest...the ONLY way she would sleep, and she kept telling me she couldn't breathe...as if A. That had never occurred to me B. It was the first time I had taken her out and she had slept that way C. I wanted my child to die. She was quite panicky about it. Carrie has a good story too...some lady bugging Princess about licking the subway window...was that it carrie?
    posted by Blogger Kage at 3/28/2006 07:57:00 PM  

  • Oh...i am loving all of these! I think to actually change things though, the punishment has to be harsh, like:
    * Pee in the elevator, cut of your pee-er
    * Give me advice on parenting (especially when you have NEVER been a parent), Get thrown OFF the train or bus.
    * You even try to drive past me while Im walking my child across the street, your car blows up.
    You know...keep it simple. Needless to say I get completely MAD at all these NYC things...

    One more I would add is that all subways have to have escalators. Then if the elevator is pee-ridden, or full, you have another option.
    They do in DC and its heaven...of course then you get introuble for putting your stoller on it, so whats the use?

    Oooh, Oooh. One more. If any man walks past you and says "Hey Baby" or "Hot Mama" or some other pigheaded, sexist remark, he immediately gets zapped by my tazor gun that is now not only legal to carry but freely handed out by my OBGYN.
    posted by Blogger ksl at 3/29/2006 08:36:00 AM  

  • I love Marian's law - so very important. You should have seen the gash on Ms. Marian's head...

    I want a law about a WORKING high chair in every restaurant (except the super high end expensive ones where of COURSE you woulnd't take your bundle of joy). I say working because so many of them are missing one harness strap or the buckle is jacked or missing. We went out to eat a lot with DS and I was constantly returning high chairs or begging waiters to find something else that would work. Most of the time I just gave up and he ate in his stroller - he wasn't too happy about this once he hit age 1.

    So I want a clean, working high chair law in all appropriate restaurants.

    And I want some more children't museums. I know there are already some great ones, but we deserve some more! Especially for little toddlers.
    posted by Blogger chloe at 3/29/2006 08:24:00 PM  

  • I can't tell you how many times I actually kicked or hit a car with my fist when it passed me and my stroller because it came that close to hitting us.
    I had serious Pedestrian Rage in NYC.
    posted by Blogger TftCarrie at 3/29/2006 08:30:00 PM  

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