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Semele's Riches: The Whole Dog & Pony Show

Semele's Riches

Adventures in handmade childhood.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Whole Dog & Pony Show

First, let me open by saying that the little girl in the story you are about to read is FINE.  I saw her the following day and she was her happy, charming self and was NOT MAIMED. Things did get a little exciting there for a while, thanks to a rogue umbrella stroller. (If you've never shopped for a stroller of any kind, they are called that because they collapse down very small, making them incredibly convenient for things like Metro trips, when you will spend part of your day someplace you can't use your stroller, but are bound to need one at least once.)

Ian and Sophie at the Natural History Museum

After we spent an entire day downtown with the kiddos (Discovery Theater, Natural History Museum, Butterfly Exhibit, Carousel, and, finally, an in-depth tour of the restrooms in the Smithsonian Castle, thanks to my son's continuing aversion to public restrooms), we were at last on our way back to the Metro for the trip home.  The kids had been absolute angels all day.  That included walking nicely and holding hands with an adult throughout multiple situations, which meant that Sophie had spent little, if any, time in the umbrella stroller her mother brought for her.

The way home after a full day of DC attractions, however, is the ragged edge of tired for anyone, let alone a two-year-old, and her mother had wisely put her in the stroller for the short-for-an-adult but long-for-a-small-child walk back to the Metro, and proceeded to step off a curb with her.  No sooner did the stroller get into the street, than it collapsed with Sophie inside it, much to all of our dismay.  Her mother, like mothers the world over, thought quickly and pulled back on the handles, thus restoring the stroller and making it possible to get the little one out of the street.  Or so we thought.  This "fix" was met with hysterical wails that steadily increased in pitch from the occupant of the stroller.

Let me pause here for a moment to point out that, when you're a parent, the easy answer ("She's mad.") is never the right one, even if it turns out to be true in the end.  The worst case scenario is always with you.  You walk past a pair of lopping shears in a hardware store, and in your mind you don't see the tree branches impinging on your front walk, you see your small child deciding to see what happens when they DO THIS.  So, because the worst case scenario is where I live, I started yelling, "Her fingers!  Check her fingers!"  Sure enough, one of her fingers was caught in the hinge of the stroller. My friend spotted this and said, "Help.  I need help!"

So, next thing you know, instead of processing safely to the other side of the street, our entire party is standing in the street, just off the curb.  We consist of three adults, one who has achieved approximately the color of chalk and is wearing a sleeping infant, a small child in a stroller screaming to high Heaven, and a three year old who is playing jack-in-the box, popping off the curb every few seconds.

I'm trying to pry the hinge off the finger.  (That worked about as well as you are probably thinking it did.)  My husband is looking for the release catch.  I'm not sure what my friend was doing other than seriously looking like she might faint and trying to explain to my husband how to collapse the stroller and free her kid, because I am too busy trying to simultaneously break a piece off the evil stroller and keep my kid from wandering into the street to pay attention to that part of the action.

That last is because my three year old, the afore-mentioned Jack-in-the-box, keeps coming into the street with us, saying, "I want to tell Sophie it will be all right."  Every time he did, I picked him up and put him back on the curb, then started prying at the hinge again.  We must have looked like a bizarre riff on the Seven Dwarves- Panicky, Clueless, Futile, Pained, Sleepy, and Hoppy.  Too bad the seventh dwarf, Sensible, skipped the trip that day.  (As I say that, I think, "Yes! One more person playing Clown Circus in the street with us is JUST what we needed- they could have directed the car traffic to go around us.")

After what seemed like eternity to the adults, and probably seemed even longer to Sophie, we got her free from the stroller.  My husband charged up the steps of the Castle, heedless of other pedestrians in his way, in search of ice.  I picked up Sophie and held her sobbing form long enough for her mother to pass the baby over to me so she could comfort her daughter.  Sophie promptly responded to all efforts at first aid for her swollen little digit exactly as any sensible person would.  She screamed, "NO! DON'T TOUCH IT! IT HURTS!" until we promised to leave her finger alone.  When she'd calmed down enough for us to move her (never enough to administer first aid), we all started toward the Metro.  Sophie, of course, was NOT getting back in that stroller, so her mother carried her.

Sophie took this opportunity to close this hideous chapter of her life by falling asleep.  As all sleeping children do, she got heavier the longer she slept, prompting a slow slide down her mother's torso until my husband took her and carried her the rest of the way home.

So this story has two morals.  ONE: Go burn your umbrella stroller.  TWO: A man who will carry a sleeping, injured child with a dirty diaper from the Capitol Mall to Northern Virginia is one of the good guys, for sure.  Don't leave home without him.

PS:  Please read what Consumer Reports has to say about umbrella strollers.

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