Victoria Bennett Beyer is a photographer, writer, and mom to her nearly two-year-old daughter, Wyle.  When she’s not out and about Pittsburgh with her daughter, she’s building block towers and cutting grapes into ridiculously small pieces.  You can find her photography and blog at www.victoriabennettbeyer.com.  Trust me.  Her photos are stunning!

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Victoria and Wyle
Victoria and Wyle

I never thought I’d raise a child in Pittsburgh.

I’m from coastal South Carolina, and even though I’ve lived in North Carolina, Wyoming, and now Pennsylvania, it really never occurred to me that my child would be from a place so different from where I grew up.

My childhood was pretty close to perfect.  I roamed the streets on my bicycle for hours every day, pretending to be Nancy Drew.  I played in the nearby woods with my gang of friends, covering miles as we explored.  In high school, I’d run the two miles from the track to my house, as part of cross country practice, passing the library and the grocery store and church, all places I could frequent without a car and without my parents chauffeuring me around.  I had so much freedom as a child and as a young adult.  It was not only the more innocent times but also the small size of my hometown that enabled me to grow, unrestrained, safely.

I always assumed my child would grow up in the same, idyllic manner.  But since my daughter, Wyle, was born nearly two years ago, I have come to realize that her childhood will be very different from my own.  I guess I have had a hard time accepting that.

Victoria and Wyle at Beechwood Farms during their first hike of the year!
Victoria and Wyle at Beechwood Farms during their first hike of the year!

Ultimately, I want Wyle to be as happy as I was as a child.  I want her to have a love of the outdoors, an adventurous spirit, and the space to develop into a responsible person without me hovering over her every move.  But where we live, the road is too busy to bike to a friend’s house.  There is no forest next door for her to wander through.  She can’t walk home from school.  Can she learn to be self-reliant without these experiences?

Still, in the face of these concerns, I know that Wyle will have so many opportunities that I did not, because she lives in a big city and not a small town.  We could literally be out doing something every weekend.  And think of all the places that are open every day – the museums, the Phipps Conservatory, the concerts, the festivals, the hiking and biking trails.  The Shaler Library has so many children’s programs that I needed a half an hour and a highlighter to go through them.  And the zoo!  We live nearby and go every other week.  Do you know how many times I had been to a zoo before I moved here?  I could count them all on one hand.  It is amazing to me that Wyle can observe the animals in every season and from every vantage point.  She has already seen the polar bear in the water, with his face separated from hers by only glass, and she has seen him in the tunnel, from an underwater perspective and she has seen him eating fish thrown to him by the trainers – all before she even turned two years old.

Taking in the scenery at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Taking in the scenery at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History

I suppose her development really is all about trade-offs.  Will my child grow up seeing a herd of elk grazing on a hill while we are driving to a camp site miles from the nearest other people?  Will she be able to see the night sky unadulterated by the lights of civilization like she would if we still lived in Wyoming?  No.  But she will grow up minutes away from not only the Buhl Planetarium at the Carnegie Science Center, but also the fantastic Carnegie Museum of Natural History where she can get within inches of an elk and study him for as long as she likes.

Wyle won’t grow up just like I did, or how I imagined she might.  She won’t grow up to be the same person as me, either.  She’ll be her own person with her own experiences and I am excited for that.  I just want her to be happy, and to hold dear some of the same things as I do, and I guess no matter where we live, it’s my job to make that happen.

 

© Copyright 2013 Nadine Champsi, All rights Reserved. Written For: The Pittsburgh Mommy Blog
Nadine Champsi

Nadine Champsi

I am a doctor turned write-at-home-mom who runs the Pittsburgh Mommy Blog and is editor of Kidsburgh. I have two wonderful young children and am happily married. My interests include cooking, green-living, gardening, being in the outdoors, listening to great music, checking out the city's cool art, coming up with creative things to do with my kids, and having as many adventures as I can!
Nadine Champsi

2 Comments on Guest Post: “A Childhood Different From My Own” by Victoria Bennett Beyer

  1. I grew up outside of Pittsburgh, and some of those attractions were “special treats” or field trips. On the other hand, I attended Pitt for grad school, and I would often spend an hour at the museum and I remember how you can see something new almost every time you go there. That her experience will be different from yours is not a bad thing. That you try to take advantage of the opportunities she has is important. Plus, there are always vacations – we used to visit rural Virginia, so I got to experience a little of the woods too. BTW, I biked all over Pittsburgh as a kid – hard work with the hills, but huge fun.

    • Hi Dan,

      It’s true that we will use our vacations to try to share the other places we love, but it is never quite the same. I really don’t want her to feel like a foreigner when she gets to the South, but I think it takes a lot to overcome regional differences, even with our country as homogenized as it is. Perhaps the acceptance of differences, and even the celebration of them is easier with age, anyway, and I need to quit worrying about it :)

      We are working on getting into biking – the trails here are so extensive and so pretty! My husband has already started taking Wyle out on rides, but I am the one who needs to catch up! I am still getting the hang of a bike with gears… it is so flat where I am from I never had one before recently! And as for biking in the city, well, I am sure my child will grow up a lot less chicken than me :)