Little Kids in the City

One of the things I am inordinately proud of my kids about is their city-kidness.

One time my husband and I were discussing the kids and he was somewhat lamenting our older daughter’s lack of savvy. “What would she do if she was dropped in the middle of the city?”

Of course, that’s actually the one thing our six-year-old is extremely savvy about.

“Uh, she’d be totally fine, and would immediately figure out which bus she could take home,” I said.

I was the opposite of a city kid. Of course, I grew up in the suburbs, but I also had an absent-minded personality and zero sense of direction.

P on the other hand is some sort of directional savant. One time, when she was three, as we were walking in our neighborhood she started pointing saying, “The doctor! The doctor!”

I frowned wondering what on earth she meant when I remembered that several months back Dave had dropped me at this exact corner because I had a doctor’s appointment. She had been in the car that morning and remembered.

We live in a city and have taken our kids on public transit from a young age. Some of my favorite memories from the summer R was born was of jumping on a bus with my wee newborn to a free guided walking tour of the city. But until last fall, we had a nanny who drove, and the kids were mostly transported via car to their school, their activities, or the park.

But last year, we hired an au pair who couldn’t drive, so our kids have been exclusively traveling to and from school and after-school activities by bus for the entire school year.

My younger daughter, R, has always been happy to ride the bus. “The 19! The 19!” she will yell as she sees a bus coming up the street. She often hams it up on the bus, I think, knowing that people enjoy watching the cute two-year old. She loves to see people in Warriors gear and shout, “Warriors” to get the entire bus amped up. Once she sang “Itsy Bitsy Spider” loudly on a relatively quiet commute Muni, and everyone applauded her at the end.

But initially my older daughter, P, resisted the bus. It’s slow. It means more walking. The bus is sometimes unbearably crowded. Or smelly. Or both.

But lately she’s been coming round to the romance of SF Muni, such that it is.

The other day she told me excitedly that on her first week of summer vacation, she and our au pair were going to Ocean Beach. “And do you know what, Mama? We’re going to take the 48 ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE LINE.”

The 48 is the bus that she takes every day to go to school.

“How bout we take the N instead?” our au pair interjected.

“No!!!!!” P cried. “I really want to take the 48!”

“But the N is faster,” our au pair said reasonably.

“No. The 48.”

Maybe P was unreasonable. But I get it. There is something magical about taking your regular bus all the way to the end of the line. And if the end of the line drops you right to the Pacific Ocean? That’s some extra magic right there.

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