Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Fox. Hen. Grain.

In case you are not familiar:

Having a baby is like constantly living inside of this riddle. For me, this is particularly bad news as I have never been able to make sense of the whole farmer, fox, grain, hen situation.

Logic problems and I = natural enemies.

Which brings me to one week before Christmas.

I wake up in a panic - realizing that if I don't mail our presents out TODAY I will arrive in Texas to visit my husband's family empty handed (because adding a baby to our itinerary has somehow managed to increase the number of suitcases we travel with from one to FOUR and thus there is no room for presents).

I briefly contemplate explaining to my in-laws that I have given them "the gift of life" in the form of one extremely chubby grandson, but having gone to the effort to schlep a load of gifts back from our Honeymoon in Turkey I determine I must dole them out on Christmas as planned.

I need to start wrapping so baby needs to go somewhere stationary. How about the exersaucer? (aptly dubbed by a friend of my sister's "the circle of parental neglect").

This "toy" is recommended, incidentally, for children ages 5 mos. and up. Snoods is only 12 weeks old but as I'm pressed for time I determine that he is exceptionally mature for his age and that "requires head control" is a subjective criteria.

I manage to get something like 24 gifts wrapped and boxed in about 12 minutes (with apologies to the recipients who likely suspect me of cutting corners by allowing my baby to wrap said gifts himself).

Off to the post office.

OBSTACLE ONE: I have a box the size of a small refrigerator filled with gifts.

OBSTACLE TWO: I need to get to the Post Office along with a purse. a diaper bag, a stroller, a car seat and a baby.

OBSTACLE THREE: It is raining. It is pouring. The old man - you get the point.

So add umbrella to the list. Then immediately subtract umbrella realizing that it is the only negotiable item of the six. (As a side note, when I mentioned this choice to my sister-in-law who had 4 kids in 6 years she told me that she has recently begun carrying an umbrella again now that her oldest is in high school. For the first time in fourteen years.)

So the box goes into the car seat, which fits into the stroller. The diaper bag goes underneath and I carry the baby in one arm while maneuvering the teetering overloaded stroller in the other. I begin to think this is not going to be that bad. I'm ready to walk over and see my friendly neighborhood mailfolk. Until I remember that because of the rain and my lack of umbrella I'll have to drive.

For the record this is how my baby feels about being in the car:

That is not a file photo downloaded from an anonymous internet site. That is my actual baby reacting to being placed in his actual car seat.

I manage to get all of the items in question into the car and off we go. I turn up the radio in an attempt to soothe/drown out Snood's forced-restraint induced nervous breakdown and make it in record time.

There is no parking at the Post Office and the rain is getting worse.

I could try to wait it out but by now the Snood has reached extreme core meltdown status in the back seat so time's a wastin'. I find a spot at a meter a block and a half from the Post Office and begin the process of digging through the seats for change (having decimated my husband's careful system of separating the coins by denomination in the appropriate holder trays on a mad dash, without wallet, through the McDonald's drive-through the day before). I hop out of the car and feed the meter.

Back to the car. Now, rolling the box in the car seat while carrying the baby is no longer viable because I have no umbrella. And so I have to make a choice. Box or baby.

I choose box because frankly there's no real upside to having a baby in a post office with nothing to mail.

I throw the box into the stroller and go careering down the block.

Thinking of my baby still melting down in the back seat sends a series of news stories flashing through my mind:

I'm soaking wet by the time I make it to the front door of the Post Office. I run inside and heave the box out of the car seat into the middle of the lobby. I'm vaguely aware of someone shouting "You can't leave that here!" as I make a break for the car - all the while composing the story I will tell to the Child Protective Services officer who will clearly be waiting for me, "You see, ma'am, my husband promised me he would help me do this last weekend..."

But, when I reach the Snood he has miraculously stopped crying! That is, until I pull him out of the car and put him into his cold and drenched car seat. He is seriously pissed off and the wailing begins anew. But there's no time to soothe! I bolt for the Post Office while attempting to press the button to lock the car doors, all the while hoping the suspicious package I left behind has not already been denotated by the bomb squad.

It is then that I pass a woman on the street who looks at my screaming passenger and says helpfully, "Baby's getting wet." I long to stop and murder her but unfortunately I have neither a weapon nor a free hand.

In the Post Office several customers watch me indifferently as I struggle to open the door and get the carriage in the door. Their looks of disdain fall upon me as I try to soothe my drenched baby while kicking my now sodden and collapsing package of gifts through the line behind them.

I get up to front of the line and Myra, the Postal Worker sent for me by Jesus, comes around to help me lift my package onto the scale. She checks me out and forty-two dollars later my errand is done.

Myra looks at me with a sweet and baldly pitying glance and says, "First baby, hun?"

Yes, Myra, first baby. How did you know?