News: Performers Wanted for Kids' Circus Show, A New Baby Penguin at the Central Park Zoo, Public School News & Would You Wear These Buttons on Your Pregnant Belly?

2/22/15 - By Alina Adams

Even though the kids were on break last week, we have lots of school news to report. We also have the scoop on a couple of cool new family businesses, kids' auditions for a circus show and a new line of funny buttons for pregnant women devised by a Brooklyn dad. Plus: England can keep their baby prince—we've got our own royal birth at the Central Park Zoo!


Openings & changes There's a new country club opening on the Upper East Side... and it's just for kids. That's how the owners of the 8,000-square-foot City Tots describe their soon-to-open enrichment center/pre-K alternative on East 62nd Street between First and Second Avenues. The members-only tot spot features various adventure areas including custom-designed imaginative play stations and climbing equipment, along with classes, after-school, camps and even drop-off care. Membership levels are listed on the website but prices can only be obtained by an in-person visit. What's the old saying? If you have to ask...

Meanwhile, just a few blocks away on First Avenue between 64th and 65th Streets you'll find the recently opened Milk & Cookies Kids Spa and Salon. Forget mimosas with your manicure, this high-end children's spa boasts four hair stations, three manicure stations, two pedicure stations and a "Cool Dudes" area for boys, where kids of all ages can get pampered (because, you know, they're not catered to nearly enough at home) and chow down on some milk and cookies while they're at it. Feeling left out, parents? Don't worry, the salon offers Parent & Me packages, too.

One of our go-to local stroller cleaning and repair businesses has gone national. CleanBeeBaby is now known as The Tot Squad and is offering its services in NYC, Los Angeles and San Diego, as well as franchising opportunities beyond.

Kids' circus performers wanted Do your kids dream of running away and joining the circus? Well now they can—at least for one afternoon. The Bindlestiff Family Cirkus is looking for variety performers under age 21 for its 10th annual Cavalcade of Youth performance at Coney Island USA on Sunday, March 22 at 4pm. Young acrobats, jugglers, clowns, hula hoopers and novelty acts welcome. If your kids think they've got what it takes, email with their name, age, act description and any questions. No audition required! No pay, either, beyond minimal tips, and lots of applause and glory.

Baby on board! Bow down, peasants, for a king penguin chick has been born at the Central Park Zoo. Though hatched last August, the tiny royal (gender not yet determined) spent six months under observation and was only recently introduced into the Polar Circle exhibit alongside its parents. Over the next few months, visitors can watch as the infant's brown feathers transform into the black, white and yellow adult plumage we're all familiar with.

Speaking of babies on board... Forget manspreading. Any woman who's taken the subway in her third trimester knows that the rudest riders are the ones who don't offer you a seat. Are they just ignoring you or maybe they're not sure you're pregnant? Well, now there's a way to erase any doubt. Mommy Belly Buttons were recently invented by Liem, a Brooklyn dad who was frustrated that his pregnant wife wasn't offered seats on the subway. Now you can pin his buttons with sayings like "Can My Mom Sit? She's Been Carrying Me All Term" or "I Won't Stop Kicking 'Til We Get a Seat" on your belly and, well, if you don't get a seat, it means people really are just jerks. Four buttons cost $18 but Liem says he's handing them out on the subway for free to any pregnant ladies he sees. So stick that belly out and hope you run into him, or some riders that realize you need the seat more than they do.

School news—lots of it New York's public school system seems to have more drama than daytime soaps! Stories we're following these days include the allegation that Governor Cuomo owes NYC public schools approximately $2.5 billion. Meanwhile, last month the governor endorsed massive public school reforms that have been criticized by education activists like Diane Ravitch, who wrote a sober op-ed in the Daily News about why his suggestions, especially strengthening the link between test scores and teacher evaluations, won't work. Finally, there's a controversial proposal to address socioeconomic and cultural imbalances in the NYC public school system. With controlled choice, in-zone residents would no longer have automatic priority for the school closest to their home. Instead, factors like family income, English Language Learner status and special needs would also weighted in an attempt to diversify the student population across the district. While it's intriguing in theory, the same plan was implemented in San Francisco a few years ago. The result was more than 30% of families opting to send their children to private schools instead. There are definitely downsides: longer commutes, less of a community feel and, of course, fear of change and the unknown. It will be interesting to see if the plan is actually rolled out.