metro mama

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Toronto the Good, Part 5 – Socio-economic Diversity

Though I’ve complained about my neighbourhood on occasion, I do love it for its diversity and I think it’s important that Cakes lives somewhere where she’ll meet people of varying backgrounds.

I grew up in a working class family (I’m the first one in my immediate family to go to university). I think my background has taught me not to take things for granted, to work hard, and to be respectful of all people. Cakes is never going to lack anything—we started her education fund before we bought her first stuffed animal—however, I don’t want her growing up taking what she has for granted. I don’t want her to be surrounded by kids being chauffeured in luxury SUVs to fancy private schools. I don’t want her thinking every 10-year old has an iPod and a cell phone. I don’t pay hundreds of dollars for art classes for my 18-month old when we can do art for free at our local drop-in centre. I don’t want her turning up her nose at someone less fortunate than her.

I want Cakes to learn to give back to her community—there are many activists here and lots of causes to choose from. We’ll find something to do together that interests us both. Hopefully, the gentrification of my neighbourhood won’t happen too quickly. We’ll continue to wave at the man that sits, smoking, in his wheelchair outside of the community centre. We’ll acknowledge the panhandlers. We’ll have conversations with our neighbours instead of walking by, eyes downward. She won’t measure her success by what she drives, or who she wears—she won’t measure anyone by that.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm in complete agreement. Even if I had a trillion dollars, I would want that for my children. I think there is an appreciation for life that should not be superficial. It helps us value the little things.

12:56 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

I think it is important for the children to see you give. For them to understand that the reason that I give to someone we pass on the street is out of respect for whatever situation they are in...ther but by the grace of .....whoever....go we.
And when we cannot give that day for lack of change, a nod of recognition and an I am sorry I cannot give today. We all need to be seen.


1:24 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Well said.

I want Wonderbaby to be able to look everybody in the eye, to see the possibility of friendship in every encounter.

2:41 PM  
Blogger penelopeto said...

great attitude; great guidance. i bet you won't have to worry about cakes.

for myself, as someone who grew up with daily access to the city and parents who treated everyone equally, i can honestly say that differences like ethnicity or economic 'standing' don't even register.
this is somewhat different than my husband's experience, who, although doesn't judge anyone on these things either, had never even met anyone Jewish, or seen a real homeless person before moving to Toronto.

I bet cakes will fall into the doesn't-even-register-a-difference category.

3:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's all making too much sense.

Obviously you didn't want enough Melrose Place or Beverly Hills 90210 to think like that.

3:21 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

I'm hoping that "differences" between class/race/money won't even register with The Boy. I'm going to do everything in my power to see that through.

3:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is definitely something to aspire to with my boys as well. Great post.

4:40 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

I voted for you and Sunshine!

6:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Haley-O said...

Unless we move, the monkey will NOT be talking to (one of) our neighbours. 'Cuz he and his wife are complete assholes. Long story. Otherwise, I'm with you -- here's to tolerance, acceptance, love and respect for others. :)

9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, yes, yes - I agree with your post and hope that I do the same. Well said, Metro Mama.

10:27 PM  
Blogger jen said...

well said. what a different world we'd live in if all parents had your same ideas in mind for their children.


10:30 PM  
Blogger MrsFortune said...

I love Toronto, and have always thought it would be a great place to raise a family for all the reasons you've stated. That, and it's clean. Cleanliness is good. Oh! And the chinatown ROCKS. Best chinese food EVER plus weird, squirrel like creatures hanging in windows.

10:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally hear where you're coming from. I grew up with a blue collar father and while we weren't poor, we certainly were not well off either. The house my parents raised three kids in is 2/3 the size of our "starter home" in the 'burbs, for example.

This is something I'm worried about too; I don't want my daughter to want for anything, but I don't want her to take anything for granted either. It's a fine tightrope to walk though.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous ali said...

i have sent many of those!!!
(only mine sometimes included guns and shooting...)

10:11 AM  
Anonymous ali said...

sorry...that was on the wrong site...wonder how i did that...

10:12 AM  
Anonymous ali said...

what i wanted to say was...GREAT post. we live in a neighborhood - that when we moved in - we thought was primarily jewish...but in school my kids have gotten to know children that fall all over the map - religiously, socio-economically, and racially.

i love it!

10:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous Heather said...

I have no doubt that your little one will learn from your example. I hope our kids will too - the diversity part is sadly lacking in the 'shwa, but plan to teach our kids by example as well.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous erin said...

I agree with & respect your principles however I don't think they are exclusive to parents who live in neighborhoods like yours. It is up to the parent to impart these ethics/morals/empathetic behaviors to our children regardless of where we live. I am certain there are some parents who live in less-diverse neighborhoods who are guilty of indulging their children and not exposing them to the diversity and activism you describe, but there are also parents who live in socio-economic diverse neighborhoods who also do not impart the qualities you describe. It's about the parenting and not about neighborhood. If you had unlimited means can you say that you would live exactly where you are living now? Just a little thoughtful debate for a Friday, I enjoy your writing very much.

9:46 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

Erin - thoughtful debate is good. I agree, these principles are not exclusive to parents in neighbourhoods like this (I hope my post didn't sound at all self-righteous). I do think we would still live here even if we could afford to live in a posh neighbourhood for the reasons I've described.

A friend of mine taught at a private school and said the kids were aware of labels in grade 1. I just want that stuff to be off the radar as long as possible.

11:33 PM  
Blogger sunshine scribe said...

Good post Julie. I came from a very blue collar family where there were there were years without new winter boots and where I had to put myself through university (also the first in either side of my family). Everything you wrote rings so true for me and the things I want for my son.

4:54 PM  

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