Over at The Mommy Files, the San Francisco Chronicle’s online parenting blog, there was a recent post about how the parents of twin 14 week-old boys had preemptively prepared bribery goodie bags for all the passengers on the babies’ first airplane trip. The bags included treats like Jolly Ranchers, earplugs, and an endearing note apologizing in advance for any crying their fellow adult passengers might encounter during the flight. I had two immediate reactions to this story:
First: really?! Do you know any parents of an infant – let alone two infants – that have time to prep 100+ goody bags for strangers? In our household, we’re lucky if we manage to prep the babies’ bottles the night before. And second: who are these parents that are so capable and smooth that they managed to travel cross-country with their twins? Up until last week our twins had only left the house for required doctors’ appointments. Heck, we even considered asking our family physician to make house calls so we could avoid the hassle of traveling to and from the clinic.
I concluded that my husband and I are obviously incompetent. Everywhere I look (read: Facebook) there is a plethora of posts from other parents describing amazing outings with babies in tow.
“Here is 6 week old Suzy on her first hiking trip!”
“Look, little Johnny is sampling organic heirloom tomatoes at the farmers’ market!”
“Baby Jane and the family waterskiing in Tahoe!”
Sure, most of the time the baby is asleep and/or drooling. But still. I’m so impressed with these folks that manage to get themselves presentable, their baby tucked in, extra binky and diapers stashed, and out the door. This last part is the hardest for us. Don’t get me wrong – we do set lofty goals for ourselves. Two weeks ago we decided to finally use our expensive baby carriers and walk down to the corner Starbucks. Our daughter woke up first and downed her bottle, which meant that she had to sit around and wait for our son, who likes to take his sweet time and also needs to burp every 2 ounces. By the time he was finished 45 minutes later, our daughter was already getting fussy. Tucking her into the Ergo carrier resulted in screams of bloody murder. Then, since we had rushed our son through his bottle, when I packed him into his carrier he promptly spit-up all over me. Twice. It was too much curdled milk to just ignore, so I instructed my husband to walk laps around the house while I changed our son. Of course, switching out his wet outfit for a dry one was the green light for him to go ahead and have a mega poop.
Needless to say, we did not make it to the coffee shop that morning.
We were content to just let our twins be prisoners of the house until they were a more manageable age, like fourteen. Then, last Tuesday my nanny mentioned that our local library had a “laptime story-time” for babies. Lo and behold! It was going on that exact day, at 11 am. Why not? It was already 10 am when we made a spur of the moment decision to go, so I had no time to fret about timing their nap schedules and mid-morning meal. We just warmed up their bottles and brought along an insulated bag, grabbed our pre-packed diaper bag, and prayed that they hadn’t already outgrown the diapers we had stashed 3 months earlier. It got a little hairy when I kept pressing the wrong button to close the garage door remote because my son was yelling loudly at being strapped into the carseat, but as soon as we got moving everything seemed to calm down. We made it to the library, fed them their milk while they were entertained, and marveled at all the other babies and moms there.
In truth, I think my kids were a little overwhelmed by all the other people (and by the insidious catchiness of the tune “the wheels on the bus go round and round.”) My daughter – who is usually such a ferocious little diva at home – suddenly seemed shy; my son – who can easily giggle at a blank wall, was wide-eyed and quiet as he surveyed his surroundings. Clearly, we all needed to get out more.
As for me, I was feeling quite pleased with myself. Granted, I was still wearing the t-shirt that I woke up in, and one of the other moms mistook our nanny as the twins’ mom, but I had managed to get both babies out the door for an honest to goodness activity! And you know what? It wasn’t quite as big of an ordeal as I had imagined. No, our twins won’t be making the rounds at the San Francisco farmer’s market next week, and we aren’t planning any long-distance travel anytime soon, but we might just make it to next week’s story-time. Just don’t expect me to give you a Jolly Rancher.