It dawned on me the other day that some of the quintessential childhood summer experiences — camping, roasting marshmallows, running through a sprinkler with bare feet, shivering in a too-small towel by an over-chlorinated outdoor pool, sprinklers in a driveway (read to the end), cricketsong at dusk — will be difficult to come by for my Manhattanite children. Most of the summers of my youth were passed out of doors, trailing my older brother in our backyard, pumping my legs vigorously on the backyard swing set my father installed when I was seven or eight, participating in summer camps and pool days at my parents’ country club, hiking or horseback riding when we relocated to Colorado for the month of July during the bulk of the years that stretched between 1990 and 2000. Of course there are opportunities to travel with my little family to more rustic locales on vacation, where such pastimes can be indulged (and we intend to do so), but these experiences will be novelties rather than normalcies–brief departures from the concrete jungle, the stink and swell of August humidity in New York City. And the compression of space we experience as urban apartment dwellers entails unique considerations when I muse on this subject. For example, camping involves bulky gear: tents, sleeping bags, backpacks. Where would we stow this when not in use?! Even an inexpensive sprinkler seems like a burden. (“Do we keep the sprinkler in the closet, or use that space for out-of-season clothing?” Etc.)
Of course, this is the tradeoff we signed up for, and there are many unique upsides to living in New York that — for now, as far as we can surmise — balance the scales. But, it’s an odd thing. And there is a thick layer of Norman Rockwell-esque nostalgia that coats my memory of my own childhood and leaves me hoping for similar experiences for my own brood. For some reason, I equate proximity to the unvarnished simplicity of the outdoors in summer with a kind of inborn down-to-earth-ness. The fact that my two children might not know what it feels like to run their toes through overgrown grass on a daily basis curls up alongside a worry that they might become too frou frou or overly-cultivated for their own good. I don’t want them to be coddled urbanites who look on with puzzlement when friends from out-of-town marvel over the fact that “taking out the trash” in our building means calling a service elevator and having a porter remove the bag just feet from our door. (This remains, to me, an exceptional shock, even nearly two years into our life here.) Or that taking a subway or cab to school is de rigueur, or that there are doormen to hail cabs, receive visitors, and carry up groceries and other parcels on our behalf. How will they ever understand these as eccentricities of our lifestyle? Mini pointed to an enormous pillared building meant to look like a courthouse in a book the other day and described it as “a house.” A house! What skewed vision of the world has she already built — or have we in some way co-constructed with her?
These concerns are not overly meaty in the grand order of things. I trust myself and Mr. Magpie to keep our children from growing up too cloistered, and we visit family often enough to keep some semblance of “the real world” (New York is other-worldly, to be sure) impressed upon them. But they occur to me in fits and spurts, as I am switching mini’s clothing to her summer wardrobe, pulling out the strawberry-print blouse I ordered for her while fleetingly, improbably, imagining her wearing it in a field somewhere, and I catch myself wondering: but where?
How do you feel about raising your children in the home you have selected for them? Reservations? Concerns?
Summer Childrenswear Finds.
Most of the pieces I’m sharing here are more casual than you’ll usually find me featuring — because not every day involves a smocked, ironed dress around here (although, if that’s what you’re after, I shared a bunch of more traditional/formal pieces for the entire familyhere). Many of these are more inspired by a rustic aesthetic to match the yearnings outlined above:
+I fell in love with the strawberry blouse mentioned above after pining after La Coqueta’s very similar, far more expensive style. I’ve been waiting for a good La Coqueta promotion to pounce on a few pieces…
+I hadn’t imagined I’d be super into the more West Coast vibe of this label, but I’m loving pieces by Rylee & Cru for micro these days. I have my eyes on these overalls in particular. (Get the look for less with these.) Also — to coordinate without matching, this for mama.
+I love that Jacadi carries their styles even in the ittiest-bittiest of sizes. I find that many labels start at 3M, but micro will be scarcely a month on the fourth of July — and so I have my eye on this for him.
+How darling is this peplum rashguard?!
+Every mini needs some white denim shortalls in her life. So cute with a striped tee!
+This swiss dot situation for a little lass.
+$13 t-strap sneaks for a dapper little gent. Love them in the gray.
+RUN. $29 for a pair of RR jammies!
+Also into the sweet, subdued pieces from Quincy Mae as some last-minute additions to micro’s layette. I bought him an entire head-to-toe star print look, some pointelle leggings, booties, and some bloomers. So sweet.
+Bought mini this gingham pinafore.
P.P.S. My troubles and treasures.
P.P.P.S. 10 life-changing baby products. (Go for the post, stay for the comments — lots of great reader additions!)