Play, Learn, and Grow in Harlem
Posted on January 9, 2015

Bohemia Blog by Agent Patrick Rodgers Frankfort






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October 21, 2014.  A day that will remain one of the defining moments of my life:  I woke up a simple man with a super hero pregnant wife, and two off-the-wall dogs.  And I went to bed the daddy of Grace Opal Frankfort.  Fewer things in life are more scary and exhilaratingly awesome.  Here’s this little angel you helped to create.  (Admittedly, my wife had the hard job.)  You can prepare for months, heck, even years and still feel completely clueless as to what to do.  So, as my little one grows rapidly, and I mean, at seemingly light speed, I started to think, “What am I gonna do with my baby girl when she moves beyond the normal needs?”  You know what I’m talking about.  FBDR.  Feeding, burping, diaper change, and repeat.  I mean, she’s not just gonna nap in between in a few months.  That growing brain will want to learn other things.  Hey, I’m gonna need to relearn things.  Oh no, palms are starting to sweat.  Panic is setting in.  I can’t just be super dad keeping my Gracie at home shaking a rattle and making hilarious faces till she smiles.  Or is that just gas?  Who cares, I’ll take what I can get, and what you guys will believe.  




Of course, I live in the greatest city in the world right in Hamilton Heights, and there is always something to do.  But what can a dad or mom do with their kids?   I want to know how to make the most of my relationship with my little one.  And no, I don’t wanna travel too far.  And yes, BFFs in the BK, Prospect Park is too far.  Anyone reading this with a baby knows that traveling with a child of any size and age is an adventure.  So I thought it best to start my super dad preparation now focusing on easy to get to Harlem locales that Gracie, her mommy, and I can play, learn, and grow.  




 




Play




So Gracie is, admittedly, not playing basketball or softball with dad yet.  (Probably a few months from that :) #tigerparents) But, the super dad in me wants to know where we can hang out and get a little fresh air, and run around when the time comes.  Well, Harlem boasts some of the best parks in NYC.  We can start with Central Park.  Yes, central park does extend up to Harlem.   You can enter right at 110th street.  And right in that area of the park, you can skate or swim at Lasker rink and pool.  Not to mention just enjoy the open air.  You can even head up a little higher to Morningside Park, which has a little waterfall!  My little girl loves staring at pictures, and a waterfall into a pond filled with ducks and turtles makes for a great living picture.  My wife and I love walking GG (Gracie Girl) up and down Riverside Park.  She is a big fan of taking walks.  Well, ok, she basically falls right to sleep, but i’m sure she’s dreaming of the Hudson, and the sites that go along with the stroll.  There’s also Marcus Garvey and Jackie Robinson Parks.  They have amphitheaters, pools, and of course, playgrounds!  I can’t wait to see GG running all around having a blast on the jungle gyms, and slides.  




But wait, what about fitness.  I mean, she’s just a baby, so I don’t think she’s ready for crossfit.  I doubt I’ll ever be ready for crossfit.  Yoga is more my style.   And there are classes in Harlem for babies!  Well, parents and their babies starting at 7 months.   I’m looking into Land Yoga at 2116  Frederick Douglas at w 114th st.   There’s also My Gym at 258 Saint Nicholas Ave.  Yes, I will get my girl started on her path to fitness superstardom!   And for our cool down, we can enjoy a little fun at the Totally Kid Carousel at Riverside and 145th open in the summertime.  And yes, I’m not so secretly excited about riding a carousel!




Learn




Learning can and should be fun for both parents and children.  And there are some super cool options I can’t wait to take the GG to.  The big kid in me needs to start with, what else?  A toy store.  Oh, I know what you’re thinking.  That should fall under the “Play” portion of my dissertation.   Well, when the creator of said store has been an educator for the majority of her life and is referred to as Grandma Dawn, you know that learning is gonna be involved, and yes, fun!  The aptly named “Grandma’s Place” is located at 84 W 120th st.  It’s got unique toys to stimulate minds young and old.  And plenty of books as well.  From there, I’d like to find a groove at the National Museum of Jazz.  You can listen and learn about the great music genre that Harlem is famous for.  My little 11 week old already has an affinity for all types of music.  And I’m glad to say, that all types of music calms her and stops her from crying.  (Well, not all types.  Proud to say that Nickleback has the reverse effect).  And as an ex- children’s librarian (stop laughing, it’s true) I appreciate a good story time or two or three.  Check out Storytime Saturdays at the Harlem Center PAL Building at 441 Manhattan Ave between 118th and 119th streets. (Suggested $5 donation)




Grow




And growing is a tricky subject for me.  If you ask my wife, she’d probably tell you that I stopped growing up at age 5.  I do, of course, intend to be the boss until Gracie turns 6, and takes over and starts running the house when Mom is out.  Not looking forward to missing a big UNC basketball game because GG told me that I have yet to complete my chores.  From the parks, to the history, to Harlem Yo, where Grace can get a little frozen yogurt, and I can grab a sensible smoothie.  And by smoothie, I mean a large vanilla yogurt with everything on it!  And by large, I mean, I’ll take 2.  That’s how daddy can grow…his belly that is ;).  All kidding aside, Harlem and Upper Manhattan are wonderful places to grow up. I can’t wait to see my little pumpkin discover all that life has to offer, and in turn, watch as dad re-learns how amazing his life has become.  




 




Life is an amazing thing.  And Harlem is packed with places to help you and your child make the most of it.  From music, to museums, to parks, pools, skating rinks, and shopping, I’m so proud to say that I reside in Upper Manhattan, a wonderful place for Mom, Dad, and Gracie to Play, Learn, and Grow.