…if you grew up navigating the clusterfuck that is the New York subway system. (Actually, I’m only pretending that it’s a clusterfuck. I think it’s actually a work of genius and it blows my mind that it not only functions but functions like 93% of the time and gets you anywhere except for the Lower East Side, which is probably an act of revenge for that particular neighborhood begetting “Rent.”)
Every day I spend here, the small children of New York City BLOW MY MIND with how obscenely smart they are. Like, compared to Manhattan babies, Las Vegas kids are drooling idiots. (Manhattan babies don’t drool. They contribute their enlightened spittle to the universal spittoon.) It’s not just that they grow up as fluent in subway etiquette as they are in English. And French. And Swahili. And they can understand the guy on the subway platform who is telling them to avoid watching out for that ginormous rat without asking him eight hundred times “What? Huh? Sorry, what?” because, unlike me, they grew up around people who have accents besides White Southwestern American.
I was at work the other day fitting an almost-two-year-old girl who was telling me, in full sentences, what she thought of the fit of her shoes. NOT EVEN TWO YEARS OLD. In Vegas, I had ten-year-olds who couldn’t string together enough words to answer me when I asked if their shoes were too tight or too loose, and this freakish little gremlin genius is telling me that she thinks she needs to go up a half size. I looked at her mother and said, “Your daughter is RIDICULOUSLY articulate.” She nodded, with a mixture of pride and sheer terror of the havoc that a kid that smart is doubtlessly going to wreak in her future.
Maybe it comes from the extreme pressure associated with getting into the world’s greatest preschool. I wouldn’t know, because when I was in preschool, I was parading around in public wearing only my bathing suit while living in fear that I was going to be forced to take a bath at my preschool, La Casa de Cristo (I fully attribute my raging agnosticism to this early fear of baths). Maybe it’s because you grow up riding the subway with volatile drunk midgets who speak only Spanish and punch the metal subway pole intermittently on the N train on Saturday evenings. We suburban desert dwellers just rolled around in the backseat eating old French fries and reading the same Ramona and Beezus that had been shoved between the seats for the past seven years.
The children of New York City would take over the world, if it weren’t for the fact that in their pubescent years, the pressure causes them to crack and they all end up at Vassar doing molly after they finish their art history papers on the weekends.