This weekend we finally came to our senses and decided to go on a little exploratory committee to check out the suburbs. It’s not like I haven’t been there before, but I doubt that a trip to IKEA or Legoland counts as checking them out.
Since our house was taken over by dehumidifiers and fans (that’s a story I will tell you about tomorrow), and I wanted to visit a friend who just had a baby and lives around our target suburb, I casually made a list of open houses that seemed like they could fit our family and budget. Then I proceeded to convince Mr Foreign that this was a good idea. He didn’t buy into it, but he had no house to run back to so he had to come by.
We saw three houses. They were pretty and old. That was good, because we like them with character. The only problem is that character tends to come in small sizes, so we weren’t impressed by the amount of space. Anything is going to top our tiny weenie shoebox sized townhouse in the city, but in order to compromise so much, I need to be wowed. And to have at least a walking closet. Or a wine cellar. I have the feeling that I may need the later more.
Things I observed:
1. There was virtually no one walking on the street. I saw a couple of people running, but we know that I am not likely to mingle with those.
2. It was awfully quiet, to the point that it was creepy. I think my noisy kids would get banned like tomato plants in a front yard.
3. The size of the local Binny’s was impressive. I’m still not sure whether I should take that as a good or a bad sign. Until now I thought that all that wine talk in mommy’s blogs was bluffing, mere exaggeration for the purpose of entertainment. Now I have doubts. Maybe that explains the quietness and lack of people. They may all be at Binny’s.
We love living in the city and raising our kids here. LOVE it. Even when our house suddenly needs a ton of repairs all at the same time. Even when there is noise all around (or maybe because of it). Even when my closet space equals the space in the trunk of a minivan. When we had our first son, you didn’t see so many kids in Lincoln Park or Lakeview. We felt like pioneers, in a way.
Nothing is going to beat being able to get up in the morning, walk five minutes to a local cafe, have breakfast there with my son, who will ride the train to school with dad, and walk another five minutes to work. Nothing is going to beat being able to take a bus with my baby and be in the Art Institute in twenty minutes. Nothing is going to beat being able to pick among hundreds of restaurants from all the cuisines you can imagine. Nothing is going to beat seeing people from all over the world within a few blocks. Or walking through boisterous streets on a sunny day.
But when you have children with special needs, and you are dealing with CPS* and their changes of mind on a biweekly basis you are very tempted to, at the very least, clear the answering machine so the suburbs can at least leave a message.
*NOTE: I am referring to CPS as a whole, as an institution, as bureaucracy. I am not referring to the wonderful teachers, drivers, administrators, aides, security guys, lunch ladies, librarians, nurses and therapists who are working at the schools. They are at the front, and they are still doing a remarkable job despite the circumstances.
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