For a very long time now, Kina has asked us to take her to a place of her own invention, where you can dress up in costumes and do makeup things and hang out with your friends and without parents and have your pick of tiaras. Ha! Ha! says her father—surely that is either nonexistent or will cost a million dollars.
Reader, it exists, and you can drop your child off for two hours to the tune of just forty-five U.S. dollars. And! And! They will feed your child high tea and ply her with pink lemonade and take a cute polaroid picture of her dressed up as some princess or another and actually do a reasonably good job with the eye shadow.
Afterwards, when your child is wearing her normal princess dress that she brought from home, they will usher you out into the shadows of 19th Street between 7th and 8th, where your child and her friend will take each other by the arm and start walking down the sidewalk gossiping and laughing, completely ignoring that you are there and being extremely charming to passers-by.
The children will look at first like the six-year-olds they are, but in a hundred feet or so you will take up space like teenagers they will someday become, and a few doors later they will meander as young adults heading out for drinks on a Saturday night. In all of these scenarios, they are laughing and jostling each other and completely unaware that they live in a city that you moved to specifically to enjoy this kind of evening. (The one where you are out to drinks with your friend—not the one where you’re chaperoning your kid and her friend, which is a New York evening that it turns out you also enjoy, sorta.)
Around the corner is a restaurant that was extremely popular at the turn of the century and is now merely very, very popular. The music is loud. The tables are tight. The mac and cheese, a centerpiece for the entire menu, is exactly the same as it was before the kids existed, and it will likely remain the same when they are old enough to eat there on their own. The children do mazes and find hidden combs in the activity books that your child’s friend brought.
Afterwards, you accede to the children’s demands to have ice cream and wander, intoxicated by the late night, towards Eighth Avenue. Along the way, the children request photographs and perform feats of strength. At one point, a very famous character actor asks their permission to walk his dog around them. The children are unaware that the character actor is famous. Your partner will google him.
You take the L train home with the kids and hand off the foreign child. You imagine that the children will, when they are someday young adults, not see fit to part ways at 8:30. That can wait. In that imaginary future date, you wonder if they’ll talk about the shop that briefly existed on 19th Street and go to find it, and if it will be there. The restaurant, you’re sure, will be. You are also fairly sure your child will be wearing a princess dress.
With a cool top, or something.
Ah! The elusive landscape-oriented Parade! It is not hard to see the theme here, but I want to note that I remain very impressed by Kina’s sense of color blending and her unflinching commitment to rainbows.