Saturday, March 24, 2012

Reasons: Days Like Friday

Friday was one of the hardest days I’ve had as a parent. First of all, Lucia’s paw-paw withdrawal has intensified in the past couple of days, leading to extreme meltdowns in the morning when she gets up, more acting out during the day, and some nap- and bedtime resistance (though she has, knock wood, ultimately slept each time). Friday dawned with an epic meltdown that just wouldn’t end. By the time Andrew left for work, she’d been crying and/or screaming and/or whining for two hours. I’d planned an outing for us that day: the zoo with a friend. Through her tears/screams/whines, she kept saying she wanted to go to the zoo, so I felt sure getting out of the house and to a fun place would snap her out of it.

Indeed, once I’d lugged the double stroller down the stairs, loaded it up, carried Greta out to put her in, and corralled Lucia outside and gotten her to stand on the stroller’s riding board, Lucia was in a much better mood. She loves the double stroller and each time she gets on says she’s riding “like a scooter.” She was thrilled to start out on our walk, and continued in high spirits when we met up with our friend and her daughter to walk to the zoo.

And the zoo was a huge hit. Lucia loved feeding the goats and sheep, still fearless after several months’ hiatus from the zoo. She was excited about seeing the baboons and loved seeing the fish and other caged/tanked creatures. She wasn’t so excited about sitting down for lunch. She was even less excited about being told not to climb up and walk on some high walls. And she refused to get back onto the stroller as we walked around. (Cue music for impending doom.)

Greta slept for a good bit of the morning, but eventually she woke up and needed to eat. I led us to a shady spot to nurse, Lucia reluctantly in tow, while our friends went to see the sea lions again. I’ve nursed Greta at the playground lots of times, and Lucia is generally very good about staying close to me. Not this time. As soon as I sat down and began to nurse Greta, Lucia took off—just ran off into the crowd. And it was a very, very crowded day at the zoo. Yelling at her to stop, I pulled up my bra as best I could—not too well; hiked Greta onto my hip; and ran after her. She refused to stop running or to come with me, so I was forced—in full view of a line of nannies feeding lunch to their charges—to drag her back by the armpits. She stood by me while I again began to nurse Greta, then took off running once more. Repeat, repeat. Finally I dragged her to my friend, who, poor pregnant girl, had to hold a toddler on both hips while I finished nursing.

It was clearly time to leave the zoo. We got Lucia to sit on the bench-seat part of the stroller and made a makeshift belt to keep her in. Thankfully, she sat calmly as we left the zoo and started walking home, happy to snack on some yogurt raisins. But then the raisins were gone. We parted ways with our friends. And she began standing up on the seat as we continued on towards home—terrifying, since the sidewalks are bumpy. She just would not sit down. She’s stand; I’d stop and pull her down; she’d stand up again. The more I admonished her, the faster she was to stand up. I had no idea how we were going to get home. Finally I just picked her up and held her as best I could in one arm while pushing the extremely heavy and unwieldy double stroller with one hand, Lucia screaming bloody murder that she wanted to get down and walk. Greta, too, screamed the entire way home, tired and irritable from the sun in her eyes.

We got home. Somehow, I’m not sure how, we did. I blocked the gate until Lucia had safely walked upstairs. I took Greta out of the stroller and carried her inside, praying no one would steal the stroller while I was out of sight. I went back outside and lugged the stroller up the stairs and into the apartment. Shaken, exhausted, I put everyone down for “naps” (which on this day equaled screaming babies in their cribs with intermittent sleeping). I drank several glasses of water and tried to calm down. Today, every muscle in my back and shoulders aches.

It was an awful experience. Awful. And it makes me leery of leaving the house again. I am counting the days till we can go outside into our own backyard without any of this insanity. If I hadn’t been done with city living already, this day would have hurled me over the edge. Is it unrealistic to think I can spend the next three months inside?

Also: Though we’ve ventured out before with success, I may have mischosen my double stroller. Obviously the flaw in the sit/stand model is that you can’t restrain the older child. And there are times—like Friday—when what you need is a three-point harness to just keep the kid in her seat until you can get her home.

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