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Social Toddling

Alpha moms introduce offspring to the benefit circuit.

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What does a benefit for kiddie socialites look like? Catering includes iced sugar cookies, star-shaped cheese sandwiches, and individual pizzas decorated to look like smiley lion faces; entertainment includes a puppet show. But the kickoff event for the New York Public Library’s Library Cubs wasn’t really for the children. It was for the 40 or so alpha families who eschewed nanny care to bring their kids to the walnut-paneled Trustees Room (with its seventeenth-century Flemish tapestries) to, you know, show their support.

Hannah McFarland, who co-founded the Cubs, also founded the NYPL’s Young Lions, a group of twenty- and thirtysomethings that hosts events with au courant authors like Rick Moody and Junot Diaz (as well as an annual ball that often graces Vogue’s society pages). “The Young Lions is very edgy,” says McFarland, whose newborn daughter, Louisa, was napping on her chest. “A lot of people with kids are staying in at night, and they’re looking for ways to stay involved.”

There’s a demographic impetus too: The number of children under 5 in Manhattan increased more than 26 percent from 2000 to 2004. Already about 50 families have joined the Cubs—it costs $1,000—including Cynthia Rowley, Vanity Fair’s Vicky Ward, novelist Ann Brashares, and jewlery designer and self-described “surfer mom” Paula Zakaria (whose husband is Fareed). “I love the idea of kids connecting and introducing them to the idea of social responsibility,” says Molly Jong-Fast, who came with her husband, Matthew Greenfield, and their 2-year-old son, Max, who was sucking on an animal cracker during the puppet show. The soignée moms, dressed in cashmere sweaters and Joe’s jeans and carrying fancy handbags, traded stories about the birthday-party circuit and the preschool-admission process (this year’s hot pick: Park Avenue Christian Church Day School). Eventually, the kids tired of the bookmark-making station and began a pillow fight.


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