We are slowly getting integrated into life at Sea Cliff, both for Sydney and for me.
I have been working on integrating Sydney into the local community since we moved to Sea Cliff in November. I find it very difficult because all the local kids go to the local public school, while Sydney goes to a private school. While Sydney is very good friends with two or three of her school mates, I find it difficult as a single dad to set up play dates with these girls since most of the organizing is done by moms. Sydney does have play dates with them frequently when with her mom.
Here are a few small successes:
- Pizza & Paperbacks (Fridays): Sydney has been attending Pizza & Paperbacks – only for kindergartners and first graders – at the Sea Cliff Children’s Library since before we moved to our new home. Our one real success there has been a girl Sydney’s age named Amelia, who is very nice. We have done one play date with her and have a second set up. This has worked, in part, because her dad Grant only works half time and so is the primary caretaker in the afternoons.
- Soccer (Thursdays): We met another young girl in Sea Cliff named Genevieve, who is a year behind Sydney in school. We coordinated with Genevieve’s parents to sign the two girls up for indoor soccer together and then alternate returning to one house or the other for dinner. Sydney seems to really enjoy soccer but also views Thursdays as “play date with Genevieve” as much as she does soccer day.
- Spanish (Wednesdays): I am not sure if this really counts as integrating into the local community but I have started to hire a local cleaning lady, originally from Ecuador, to come to our house each week – not to clean but to play games or cook with us in Spanish. The jury is still out both on whether Sydney will enjoy this and whether the lady has the skills to really engage with us effectively enough. But after two visits Sydney’s enthusiasm for Spanish is higher and my ability is coming back quickly.
- Neighbors: We have a family on our block that has two boys, one a year younger than Sydney and one a year older. They have been to our house and we recently went to their house. The older boy is very nice; the younger seems to still be emotionally maturing. (He had quite a few meltdowns.) There is another family on the next block down the street with three young kids and we have tried to arrange a play date with them, without success so far.
I did not work on my own social life until the beginning of January, since my priority was Sydney, but here are some successes since then:
- Sea Cliff Wine, Beer, & Food Social Club: I created a social group via the website Meetup.com and have so far hosted two wine tastings and a beer tasting at my house. These have been fun, especially since they allow me to make acquaintances in Sea Cliff, but overall the group has seen mixed results. I had to cancel two events due to lack of interest and about half the attendees have not been from Sea Cliff or this area. I ran a similar group (just wine tasting) in Boulder and it always took off in the summer, so perhaps that will happen with this group too.
- Single Parents of Long Island: I started another Meetup Group called Single Parents of Long Island. This has been less successful than the Social Club, as I had no one interested in the first event and only four in the second event, of whom only one parent showed! I believe a problem is that I am restricting the group to parents who have at least one kid aged 5 – 14. I am still working on this and have not given up.
- Yoga: I have thought about taking up yoga for several years and figured this was a good time to do so. However, I was a little reluctant to join a real studio and so signed up for the local school district’s adult education class. It is a bit as you might expect: the class is very casual, it takes place in the high school wrestling room (because of the nice mat flooring), and of the 29 people who attended the first week I would say 90% were in their 50s or 60s. But it was 90 minutes long, I felt good afterward, and quite enjoyed myself.
- Soccer: The big recent success was that I might have found my soccer team. I have not joined a team yet in part because the Long Island Soccer Club, which has O30, O40, and O50 leagues, has teams spread all over Long Island with no teams close to me. I would have been traveling for every game. I am glad I waited. I was put in touch recently with a Sea Cliff resident who plays soccer, he invited me to their indoor practice this morning, and I have been asked to join the team. They play at the local high school, which is five minutes from my house, are in an eight-team O30 league with no slide tackling, and even have a “club house” (a garage) they use for post-game camaraderie. The guys were mostly immigrants and apparently many are Italian-Americans, which sounds perfect.
- One Friend: It is easy to join groups. It is easy to meet people. It is hard to make true friends. A lot of people simply don’t have the time or the need to make new friends. Others I just don’t have enough in common with. Still others can’t stop talking. I would say I have made one friend here, Genevieve’s dad Chris. He is two years younger than me with a daughter just about Sydney’s age and, as the stay at home dad, is the one who sets the schedule during the work week. He is a nice guy and a good parent.