Last week my kids (9 and 6) had the opportunity to join me on a work trip and experience Manhattan for the first time. Needless to say, they were blown away. Seeing this city through their eyes, I was blown away too - and more than of just the sights, but of the rich lessons that I saw my kids absorbing without even realizing it.
1) Help a stranger in need. We had a metro card malfunction at a subway station one evening, and my husband and I were stuck on one side of the gate while the kids' tickets went through and they were on other side. Parenting Panic! A man noticed us and used his card to get us through without even pausing to get a thank you.
2) It's always a good time (and age) to dance or sing. While walking through the park, on a circular medallion etched into the concrete, it became immediately clear we had to make up a song and twirl around. It was the first time ever my daughter was so spontaneous and didn't care who was watching. Later that night while watching the Philharmonic on the lawn, a group of about 100 concert goers began leaping and spinning like ballerinas to the music, led by one elderly gentleman. Everywhere we went from subway stations to underneath bridges, there were expressive musicians giving us a soundtrack to our lives.
3) Care about what you build. In a time where we are just trying to get things done as quickly as possible, it was so inspiring for the kids to see, everywhere they looked, how much love and purposeful artistic effort was put into so many things around them.
4) Embrace romance. This was an epiphany for my 9 year old son, who was so inspired by rowing a boat on Central Park lake that he declared he would one day bring a girlfriend to this lake and propose to her. This is a kid who barely hugs, people!
5) Be spiritual, no matter what your religion is. This lesson came inside the exquisite St. Patrick's Cathedral, as they took in the flickering prayer candles, people with their heads bent deep in prayer, and their mom silently weeping over the beauty of it all. I got to explain, that no matter what their religion is, to find a place like that, that offers such deep spiritual feeling and connection — that's what it's all about.