Monday, September 19, 2011

Don't Mind Us

I always thought babies were pacifists by nature. But baby N, despite being all big eyes and cuddles, is a warrior. She even has an archenemy: the Dark Bringer of Doom, His Uncomfortableness, the Car Seat. In her first months, whenever she encountered her nemesis, she would call upon the only weapon available to her—a piercing, hysterical scream.

And though the car seat was not phased in the slightest by N’s assault (what with it being an inanimate object), there were civilian casualties. Namely, Mommy’s sanity. 

You wanna knuckle sandwich? Try puttin' me in that seat!

To avoid these battles, I drove as little as possible in N’s early days. Unfortunately, big sister S needed to go to preschool every day (okay, let’s be honest—I needed S to go to preschool), so daily car rides were inevitable. To say these trips were unpleasant would be like saying that World War II was kind of a bummer.

One warmish March day when N was about five weeks old, I decided to pick up S from school on foot. We would avoid the DBD, get some exercise, and enjoy the fresh air.   

I nursed and diapered baby N, and set out with the stroller. N was sleepy, so I assumed she would pass out pretty quickly. Well, you know what they say about assuming…

Poor N started fussing almost immediately, and screaming not long after that. The neighborhood elementary school was about to let out, so I had the delight of pushing a wailing baby down the street at top speed, while parents sat in their cars eyeing me and probably googling ‘Amber Alert’ on their cell phones.

We finally reached S’s preschool, me huffy and puffy, N red and angry. I transitioned her into the baby wrap, sure she would settle down, and we began the uphill haul back.

S was thrilled we were walking; there were always a million treasures to be found on the way home—sticks, bottle caps, random pieces of tire, and other awesome playthings. N was not appeased, though. She howled even more as I hauled butt, with S motoring along beside me as fast as her little legs could carry her.  

The crying was not subsiding and the parents in parked cars were really giving me the evil eye now. I finally admitted that there was only one solution to this problem. Even though I’d already fed N and couldn’t imagine how she could possibly be hungry this soon, I knew the answer lay right in front of me: the almighty Boob. (And speaking of World War II, how many more problems might be solved with boobs? Just throwing that out there).

I turned down a quiet side street, found a shady patch of grass between a long wall and the sidewalk, and parked the stroller. S danced around looking for bugs while I went about my business, nodding casually at the few stray cars that passed. Nothing like nursing your baby on the side of the road. 

But no big deal. Until I heard the dread words, “Mommy, I need to go potty.” 

We were still a long way from home, and N was just getting going. I panicked. Looked left, looked right.

“Honey, do you remember how to squat?”

That's right. I told my three-year-old to pop a squat behind a tree on a public street. Not my finest moment. And she went for it.

“Mommy, I did it! I peed on the ground!” S gleefully waddled back to where I sat on the curb. Despite her excitement, it was clear that she did not remember how to squat. Her pants were around her ankles, and she was soaking wet.

I told her to take them off, thinking she could ride home in the stroller with a blanket over her. She pulled off the wet clothes and skipped around while I tried to remove N, who still clung to me like the Strongest Barnacle in the West. 

And then it happened.

A car pulled out of the driveway next to us, veeeery slowly. I tried not make eye contact. La la la. My half-naked child didn’t just pee on your oak tree, I’m not exposing myself in the middle of the street, la la la. Doo do doo. 

I kept my head down, waiting for him to pass.

Then S cried, “Guess what, Mommy? I waved at that man in the car!” 

Really? This is a child who won’t even say hi to people she knows half the time. She had to pick this moment to go all Mr. Rogers on me?

“But he didn’t wave back." She stuck out her bottom lip in a pout, then shrugged her shoulders. "Oh well. Maybe next time.”

Dear Lord, I don't ask for much, but please let there not be a next time. Thanks.

Your humble servant, 
S. B.