Dear Ms. Demeanor: Kids, chalk and Fifth Ave
Ms. Demeanor's Vertical Etiquette

Dear Ms. Demeanor: Kids, chalk and Fifth Ave

By Jamie Lauren Sutton  | September 29, 2010 - 10:23AM

Dear Ms. Demeanor,

I have lived in one of the better buildings on Fifth Avenue for close to 20 years. I enjoy children as much as the next person and raised two in this very apartment, in fact; however, I would never allow my children to make chalk drawings or play hopscotch in front of our building. This has become quite popular of late among some of the younger families in the building, right under the disapproving noses of our wonderful doormen.

Central Park is only steps away! Shouldn't those children play in the greatest playground in the world instead of marking up our building entrance like a suburban driveway?

Please advise,

C. N. Knotheard

Dear C. N. Knotheard,

Please do not confuse my column on etiquette with one that promotes snobbery or intolerance. The very fact that you had to qualify your building as one of the 'better' ones on Fifth Avenue tells me that you are NMKD (not my kind, dear).

We are not talking about taking 'family-friendly' to its inane extreme of, say, a children's tasting menu at Per Se or arcade games between the boutiques at Bergdorf's, but simple chalk drawings that can be washed away in a moment by the aforementioned doormen (or, even better, by the children themselves once they are finished in acknowledgement that the sidewalk is a shared space).

If dogs can do their business on it, children can certainly play on it. Central Park or no, sidewalk life in all its forms is part of the vertical village's charms and necessities. Would you really deny children, however privileged, this simple pleasure? I hope that your childrens' respective psychiatrists are more understanding of your attitude than I.

Chalky and Cheeky,

Ms. Demeanor


Ms. Demeanor is channeled by a longtime Manhattan vertical dweller and real-estate voyeur who writes under the pen name Jamie Lauren Sutton. She is here to commiserate, calm and correct. Please email your quandaries to [email protected] and put "Dear Ms. Demeanor" in the subject line.

See all of Ms. Demeanor's advice here.

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