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by Vanessa Friedman

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Vanessa Friedman, Assistant Editor and Manhattan Calendar Editor


When I told my friends I would be working as an editor at a parenting magazine, no one was surprised. “It makes sense,” my best friend said. “Writing about New York and children? You’ll fit in perfectly.” Am I a native New Yorker? Nope. A mom? Absolutely not (yet). But I’m serious about this job being just right for me. Let me explain.

Vanessa as a happy baby

This is one of my favorite baby photos of myself.
Is there anything better than seeing a tiny human express pure joy?

Ever since I was a baby, I’ve loved taking care of babies. One of my earliest memories features me at age 3, playing “babysitter.” I took some dolls to the bathroom, put the small stool I used to enable me to see the bathroom mirror on top of the laundry hamper (to make a bunk bed, obviously), and put my dolls to sleep. After “reading” them a goodnight story, I inexplicably chose to cover the entire bathroom in thick layers of toilet paper. I used four rolls in total. Then I called in my parents to check out my meticulous work. As my mom’s jaw dropped in horror, I told her the “kids” had behaved well while she was out. Then I asked for a tip.

As I grew older I started caring for real children—not dolls—and luckily for everyone I dropped the idea that TP-ing a bathroom makes one a sought-after babysitter. But if I had kept my parents on their toes when I was a young child, they certainly returned the favor. They moved our small family—my parents, me, and my younger brother—from South Africa to Canada when I was 4, and we moved again (this time to Massachusetts) when I was 10. At the time I told my mom she was ruining my life, and in response she handed me a journal and asked me to direct all my negative energy at the page, not her. I obliged.

Vanessa eating ice cream

To be honest, not much has changed since this picture was taken: I still like ice cream and floral print dresses, and I like to be prepared with sensible footwear and a sturdy water bottle.

Fast-track through the next 13 years: I fell in love with New York City on a family vacation, swore to move here one day, and followed through on that vow when I chose to go to NYU for my undergraduate degree. I was a babysitter, a camp counselor, and a tutor. I filled up the first journal my mom gave me, and then I just kept writing. I chronicled middle school and high school with a paper and pen before switching over to blogs in college, and now I use my words wherever I can: I have a paper journal, an iPhone journal app, several blogs, a Twitter handle, and of course I get to use my words at work to talk to our readers about two of my favorite things: New York and children.

I may never be a native New Yorker and I’m definitely not yet a mom (I’m thinking 30 sounds like a good age to start a family, but working for a parenting magazine has taught me that when it comes to kids, it’s best not to make firm plans about anything), but I’ll always be a writer. And being able to write about my favorite topics and call it work? My best friend was right: This job is a perfect fit.


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