Navigating the urban landscape as a young buck just starting off in life you will most likely spend some time in a fringe neighborhood. Defined by newly opened farm-to-table restaurants, local designer boutiques and cultivated green spaces, you must arrive while the fringe’s star is on the rise, but realtors have not yet received the memo. My husband and I were very proud of ourselves that we hit that sweet spot in our Brooklyn neighborhood as his parents agreed to help us procure a home. As eco-eateries and destination restaurants popped up in higher numbers than Starbucks’, we watched rents go up and lifestyle articles highlighting our small area pop up almost weekly. Then the kids arrived.
Suddenly the shine went off our cool ‘hood. Being able to entertain, feed and clothe ourselves without traveling to Manhattan was not nearly as satisfying when we realized those local public elementary schools we passed on the way to the farmer’s market rank lower than even the ones eschewed by Sandra Tsing-Loh in the Los Angeles Unified. You’d think we would have known but the buzz on our neighborhood message board made the up-and-coming PS sound like the Fame school and those accolades out-shouted my instinct to do actual research. Even more vexing, by the time we discovered the not-so-hot greatschools.net number, the word on the street was we wouldn’t even be able to get in the sought-after “6” school, and would be lucky to find a spot in the “5.”
So. What’s a small middle-income family supposed to do when private school is out as is moving to an even smaller apartment in a better school district when our own converted 2 BR is impossible to walk through without tripping on clothes, toys or the baby? Home school? Sounds great, but it’s not for me. While urban parents of a certain economic class are staying put in the city in condos that offer designer playrooms, the rest of us thought we would be able to stay here too and still have our kids attend a school that was advancing as fast as our home values.
As with all parenting decisions, we’ll figure out what’s best for our particular three-year-old and her little brother and work out the details. And hopefully that won’t include exiting our lovely area surrounded by parks, playgrounds and Spanish language music classes for babies right smack in the middle of the urban jungle that still excites and delights. But I’m thinking that won’t fly as I watch my parent friends leave the city in droves. I’m afraid the next big neighborhood discovery is for singles to conquer and the joke is on us. We probably should have known better but all we really want to know now is, where do we go? And please don’t say Montclair.