"The Littlest Hustler" in this week's New York magazine is the story of Alex Goldberg, a ridiculously, maybe even unhealthily mature 14 year old who treats Nolita like his own private playground, networking and/or scamming his way into free sneakers from Nike and floor tickets for the Knicks.
It's a great article, managing to make me feel disgusted and envious at the same time. The tagline is "Portrait of a New York childhood, in the extreme," and it may be the best summation of why you should (and simultaneously should not) raise a kid in New York City.
When I was 17 I came to New York for the first time to visit a few colleges and hang out with some friends I had met on a bike trip -- two cool Brooklyn girls who went to private school, had parents who worked at "Saturday Night Live" and seemed unbelievably hip and mature to my sheltered Midwestern ass. Kids in New York seemed to do everything a good five years earlier than the people I knew: Go out to fancy restaurants with friends, order up car services, do drugs, have sex...
It was all very alluring, and I'm sure it played no small part in me wanting to move to New York, where -- suprise, surprise -- I now live about 5 blocks from the Brooklyn Heights neighborhood where I first caught that sexy glimpse of NYC living. I guess the question is, would you want that for your own kid? Reading about Alex Goldberg, simultaneously envying his life and wincing at how fast he grew up, I have absolutely no idea.