あそびのもり ONLINE

Series CHILDREN IN THE WORLD Part III Diversity of families -families from New York-

Jacky Tran and Tim Saputo, and their daughter Antonia Saputo (1 year and 9 months old)

  • Jacky Tran and her daughter Antonia (1.9 year-old). Antonia’s specialty is the twist dance.

  • Since Antonia was small, Jacky has played music for her. She now likes the music of James Brown, Jacky says.

  • Antonia turns the box upside down to get crayons to draw.

  • Antonia also likes to draw.

  • Jacky and Tim have embraced the attachment theory of parenting to develop strong relationship between the mother and infant.

  • Jacky had hoped for many things for Antonia during the pregnancy, but “when she was born you have to go with what feels right.” Jacky says.

  • Jacky looks gently at Antonia watching children’s program at their home in Brooklyn.

When she was born you have to go with what feels right

Raising a family is a challenge for middle-class families in Brooklyn, New York. The challenge includes how to afford day care and juggle work and family life while still enjoy everything the city offers.

Jacky Tran and Tim Saputo live in the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn in New York City. It is a middle-class neighborhood that is home to a lot of young families. If you walk down the main street in the neighborhood, restaurant and shops are full of mothers and fathers with children. When we did our interview, Tim was out of town for a family wedding, and Jacky and Antonia (who is one year nine months old) were at their walk up apartment in a traditional Brooklyn brownstone building.

Both Jacky and Tim work full-time jobs. Tim works as a design director at an advertising agency and Jacky as an executive for a creative agency. Antonia was a “honeymoon baby” meaning she was conceived during the couple’s honeymoon and not planned.

Jacky decided to stay home with her daughter to bond when Antonia was born. After a year the cost of living in New York was eating into the couple’s savings, and she decided to return to the workforce. Tim and Jacky decided to hire a nanny to take care of Antonia until she is ready for public pre-kindergarten classes when she turns four years old.

Jacky and Tim have considered moving out of New York City. Their reasons include the cost of raising a family in the city and their desire to live somewhere else. But for the foreseeable future, they plan to stay put.

With the unexpected pregnancy, Jacky explains that their parenting ideas are a work in progress.

“It’s interesting. When I was still pregnant, I had certain ideas in mind. Teach her to be considerate of other people. Make sure she doesn’t think she is the boss,” explains Jacky. “And when she was born you have to go with what feels right.”

Jacky and Tim have embraced the attachment theory of parenting. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_parenting ) According to Wikipedia: “Attachment parenting (AP) is a parenting philosophy that proposes methods which aim to promote the attachment of mother and infant not only by maximal maternal empathy and responsiveness but also by continuous bodily closeness and touch.”

“The idea is you have to be in tune with them,” said Jacky, “When she got to a certain age when we could tell that she was manipulating and trying to get her way” which was around 10 or 11 months old. “And obviously you learn that you are supposed to give them barriers because kids need boundaries.”

“Some parents are like ‘train my kids, put them on a schedule’ but it didn’t seem like that was the right way for Antonia,” Jacky continued.

Jacky reads books with Antonia and teaches her the alphabet and numbers. Jacky likes to educate Antonia about the world around her using physical and tactile learning techniques.

At home when Jacky is watching Antonia one of their favorite activities is to have ‘dance parties’ together. Music has always been important to Jacky, and since Antonia was small, she has played music for her. Jacky used to play old Soul Train episodes when her daughter was younger. She found out that Antonia likes the music of James Brown. Antonia’s favorite song right now is ‘Skip to my Lou’
( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skip_to_My_Lou ).

‘If you are just hold up in your apartment the whole time, then why are you paying rent in New York?’

Asked what she likes about raising a child in New York, Jacky noted, “It’s been very easy to meet parents with kids our age in New York.” There are online mailing lists like the Park Slope Parents (http://www.parkslopeparents.com/), or you can just meet them at the park or playground.

Jacky, however, laments that parents in the city often feel they are on their own. “In New York, there is a lot left to be desired unless you are really rich,” said Jacky. She notes that child care is expensive. Getting around on public transit is difficult, and many restaurants do not have changing tables for babies.

“We try to go out with her, but it takes a lot of energy,” Jacky shared. She also found they have lowered their expectations for restaurants. They find they often choose restaurants first on whether they have entertainment for Antonia.

“It’s trying to find that balance of still enjoying the city. If you are just hold up in your apartment the whole time, then why are you paying rent in New York?”

Jacky and Tim decided to have a nanny instead of having Antonia go to daycare or preschool. Part of the reason is the expense, but another one is that preschools do not offer
flexible hours. Because of their work schedules, they are never sure if they might have to work late.

They found a nanny they trust named Tenzin. She is part of a large Tibetian nanny community in New York City. A nanny typically earns around 600 – 700 bucks a week in New York.

Tenzin often takes Antonia on playdates with children being watched by other nannies. She also brings Antonia all over the city on cultural trips including the Botanical Gardens. She also takes on the daily responsibilities of educating Antonia.

When Antonia turns four years old, she will start attending public school. The process to attend public pre-kindergarten in New York City is complicated, Jacky explained. Her family isn’t interested in private schools because the neighborhood that they live in Brooklyn has an excellent public school. However, a lot of families have recently moved into the area, which is causing some overcrowding in the school. Parents are lobbying the local city council and district representatives to open another school in the area because of the issue.

The public school in Jacky and Tim’s neighborhood is called P.S. 58 The Carroll School ( http://ps58.org/ ). It has a bilingual education with French being the second language taught at the school. ( http://www.greatschools.org/new-york/brooklyn/2225-Ps-58-The-Carroll/ )

‘I want her to have the freedom to do what she wants to do so she can enjoy living’

When asked if she had any concerns about President Trump as President of the United States, Jacky said her primary concern is possible cuts in education funding, especially for public schools.

“The main hope I have is that people are fired up enough to vote in the midterm elections and the next general election,” and change the direction of the government she explained.

She hopes that Trump’s administration will not have any long term effects on Antonia’s future.”

“All I can do right now is be optimistic but take as much action as I can right now,” Jacky said. “I don’t try and pay attention to the minutia of every horrible thing that President Trump and his administration do.”

“I hope that by the time she goes to college, it won’t be a six figure ordeal,” she lamented.
As for what she wants for Antonia’s future, Jacky said “I definitely want her to be happy. I want her to have the freedom to do what she wants to do so she can enjoy living.”

Jacky wants her daughter to find a job that is productive and socially conscious. But most importantly she wants Antonia to find a career that will make her happy.

“Growing up in an Asian family there is so much focus on money making all of the time,” she said. “I didn’t inherit that way of thinking.”

“We want her to see the world and not feel like she is strapped for money,” Jacky added. “That is all that matters.”

Reporting by Douglas Zimmerman
Photography by Ayumi Nakanishi

The Team Profiles

  • Douglas Zimmerman Journalist /Photojournalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His understanding about the importance in education was instilled by his mother who was a career teacher and school administrator in public schools in in the state of Connecticut in the United States. As a photojournalist, Douglas has spent the past fifteen years covering football (soccer) culture in the United States and at the FIFA World Cup. He also works as an online photo editor and reporter for SFGate.com, the website of the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Ayumi Nakanishi Photojournalist /Documentary photographer and filmmaker. She has traveled to 40 countries to meet families & communities, especially documenting children issues. Her passion led her based in Jakarta, Indonesia for the last 10 years working on a long-term documentary film project on a punk commune giving a helping hand to others including children. Her film has been screened in Japan and Indonesia.