Saturday, September 08, 2007

Off roading

Today the perfectly clear blue sky that eluded us all August finally graced Paris. Although I napped with le Petit until noon, trying to make up for a particularly fragmented night, there was no question of staying in the apartment all afternoon.

We load up the car with baby gear and baby. There is always a stressful rush to see if we can get le Petit downstairs to the parking garage without a scene that makes us even more popular with the neighbors. Inevitably we forget something. Often we find ourselves a few blocks away before we realize we have no idea where we're actually going.

"Bois de Boulogne? Or Forêt de Saint-Germain?" my husband asks. "Those are the only two places we can go with the poussette."

Le Petit looked up at me skeptically from his combination car seat and stroller bed where he was calm, for the moment. Since he was born, I sit in the back seat and my husband plays chauffeur to both of us. The theory is that I can help calm Petit should he start crying. In practice all my attempts at calming him are in vain, and I'm left to face his imploring, tear-stained, upside-down face as he looks up from where he's buckled in next to me. I used to try and stroke his tummy and face and explain in a gentle voice that I couldn't hold him until we arrived. Now I often pull up the stroller sun roof so he can't see me, cross my arms, and slump against the window in frustration.

As with most baby-related household decisions, I was ready to leave our destination up to my husband: that way when our plans derail and it all ends in tears, it isn't my fault. I'm sick of both the Bois de Boulogne and the Forêt de Saint-Germain, though, so I open my big mouth: isn't there a nice paved bike path somewhere in the Forêt de Rambouillet?

Forty minutes of driving and twenty-five minutes of crying later, we've arrived and le Petit has fallen asleep in the car bed. We're home free: nothing left to do but snap the bed on the stroller frame and we're off. Alas, we chose the wrong parking lot and the bike path was a good kilometer away, but no matter, we have a detailed map.

We arrive at a crossroads. We can continue on the paved road or we can take a shortcut down a dirt path that looks practicable enough. My husband asks me again for my advice.

"Uhh, whatever you think..."

And we're off. Dirt path becomes grassy rut becomes muddy trail strewn with stones. Even the super-duper third level suspension on the poussette isn't enough to damper the bumps. We start swearing at each other as we try to lift and carry the stroller over a particularly rough patch. I decide it's a damn shame Citroën with their magical hydraulic suspension doesn't make baby gear.

"He's opening an eye, he's opening an eye!" my husband starts yelling. Merde, c'est pas vrai, comment on peut être aussi con!" (Shit, it's not true, how can we be such idiots!)

I look and sure enough, le Petit has opened both eyes and is looking up at his cons de parents. We're still far from the bike path and he's evidently far from falling back asleep. By the time we reach the pavement, he's crying and his father and I are wearily staring at each other in disgust.

We trudge down the path for a good while before breaking out the Emergency Bjorn Backup System. My husband stops to scream and kick the trunk of a nearby tree. Le Petit stays merrily awake for most of the rest of the promenade, falling asleep just before we get back to the car. He wakes up upon finding himself back in his car bed, and screams for much of the way back home.

1 comment:

Anne said...

Reminds me of a first and only attempt with the stroller at Stony Brook, navigating the pine roots. Never did it again. We waited until C could sit in a backpack... several months later. By the time she was 13 months, she could walk it herself!!
biz, Anne