Friday, May 14, 2010

Baby Equipment Failure and Why My Inner Child Is Worse Than My Outer Children

Do you have an inner child that is really just the biggest pain in the ass of all your children? Or is that just me?
My inner child isn't all that fun or playful, although she is hedonistic. Mainly she's stubborn, perseveratious, messy and impractical. Today was one of those days when the Grown-Up Mom me failed to discipline the inner child, and the results could have been a lovely afternoon of hedonism, had fate not so rudely interrupted.
The morning went just fine. The baby went down for a nap on schedule, and I spent the morning gathering coupons for a shopping trip and searching the house top-to-bottom for a library book that the Oak Park Public Library had warned us was "seriously overdue." Inner Child forgot we had this book just to irritate Grown-Up Mom, I suspect.
At 11 a.m., the Toth and Pebbles and I were ready to leave the house. This is where I.C. reared her head. The day was lovely and cool, perfect for stroller pushing. However, the grown-up me knew that if we walked all the way to Trader Joe's, we'd never be back by 12:30 to get the kids fed and down for proper naps.
"Oh, what the hell, you only live once," I.C. snapped, and off we went with the Shopping Stroller -- a single stroller with a roomy basket. Toth was riding, Pebbles walking, and when Pebbles tired, she would ride and Toth would ride in the Baby Bjorn.
We stopped first at Walgreens, where I gathered my free-after-Register-Rewards items in good time, only to find that I.C. had left our coupon binder on the dining room table after filling it with the good coupons needed to turn those free items into moneymakers.
(Who clips the coupons? You might think it's G.U.M., because the whole racket of getting stuff free with coupons is more fun than practical.)
OK, fine, we managed to get everyoen out of there without any tantrums from the real kids or the psychological construct. We finished our long walk to TJ's, having one little tantrum from the actual child in the stroller on the way, bought our organic produce and wine, and agreed that even though it was now naptime, we were all hungry and needed to have a picnic in the park right now.
It was after the picnic, on the walk home, when disaster struck. This is pretty much always when a pleasant but timeline-pushing outing planned by I.C. goes south. Pebbles was tired and claiming to be "reaaallly hungry" despite the fact that we'd just eaten lunch.
Still, things were bumping along all right. Then it happened. An unprecendented baby-equipment disaster.
The back left wheel fell off the Shopping Stroller.
Now, I have had one stroller with a crooked wheel that has looked like it was about to fall off for the past four years. I have a sit-and-stand with a broken part that has to be forced back into proper position 5 or 10 times during every walk. But this stroller was working perfectly, and then, suddenly, more than a mile from home, kaput.
I put in a few weak attempts to fix it, first with the baby and groceries in it, then unloading everything and everyone on the sidewalk on the side of busy Lake Street. Thank heavens that we were in an area with planters separating the sidewald from the traffic.
I thought maybe I had it at least sort of fixed, and put the groceries back in, and strapped Toth to my chest. We rolled for a few feet before it came off again. For a block or two, we rolled two feet at a time, with me kicking the wheel back into place every couple of minutes.
It is amazing how many people can walk around a mother with two small children, two large bags of groceries, and a broken stroller without offering to help.
Two people did ask if I needed help, but neither one appeared to have any idea how to help and gratefully disappeared when I excused them.
Despite my slow progress, Pebbles was lagging even farther behind. At one point we got behind a group of students who were clearly covered by the Americans with Disabilities Act in one way or another. As I stopped for the umpteenth time and called Pebbles to catch up, one of the teachers stood 10 feet ahead of me, calling one of his students to catch up.
I caught the teacher's eye and we chuckled. His student was at least five times the size of my kid, but otherwise our charges were pretty much the same.
At this point I.C. was about ready to sit on the sidewalk and cry, even though the whole thing was pretty much her fault. If she'd listened to G.U.M. and driven the car, we'd all be home by now.
When the wheel fell off again, I decided there was nothing to do but abandon ship. I took the grocery bags out of the stroller, hung one over each shoulder, and began walking the long blocks toward home.
I thought of calling a cab right there; after all, we have another stroller at home just like the Shopping Stroller from which we could plunder whatever part was needed. But I.C. lacks the patience to sit around waiting for a taxi, even if she had remembered to put the phone number to one in our phone.
Instead I walked along with my eyes on the traffic in case I saw someone I knew or possibly a cab I could flag down.
I thought of other ways to get out of this situation, like asking any random stranger to drop my groceries at home for me, or leaving them in a store and promising to come back for them with the car. But I.C. is shy, y'all, and she wouldn't stop to talk to anyone despite G.U.M.'s many helpful suggestions.
Eventually we came to the Oak Park Ave. El stop, and we decided to take the train one stop to get us closer to home. Believe it or not, we had both cash and an CTA card with money on it in our wallet. All G.U.M.'s doing, to be sure.
Up the stairs, onto the train, off the train, down the stairs. Toth was asleep in the Bjorn, and instead of being naptime cranky, Pebbles actually enjoyed the adventure of a little train ride, so that was fine. As we walked down Ridgeland, a woman commented that I was really loaded down.
Thanks, lady. That's helpful.
Then, finally, we saw a taxi, flagged it down, and rode the last few blocks home.
When the driver took my bag to put it in the cab, he said, "This bag is really heavy. How did you carry that?"
I told him about our stroller breaking, and he said, "Why didn't you call a cab there? That bag is really heavy."
Perhaps I should print this out and mail it to him (I got his card.), because it was all too complicated to explain then and there.
Also, I didn't want to embarrass I.C.


Sara said...

Oh lord...but I couldn't help but laugh when you pointed out how helpful that lady was when she told you how loaded down you were. That has happened to me, too...thanks, people.

joe said...

That was so funny!!
sorry i jsut had to laugh!!
I know what you mean!