After last week’s outing with the babies, I felt a sudden sense of empowerment. So much so that I started thinking of the next challenge. What could I possibly do that would test my skills in a way that going out with my wife and two babies couldn’t? The answer was simple.
I must venture out with the twins… All… by… my… self.
I had kicked the idea around all week but by Saturday morning, I had made up my mind. This was the day. I had to get out to get Andrea a birthday gift and somehow leaving the babies with Andrea while I was cruising the mall did not seem like such a “happy birthday” gesture. So, I announced to Andrea that I was taking the babies shopping that day. She looked at me to see if I was serious (for some reason the woman doesn’t take every word out of my mouth seriously. I don’t understand why) and after deciding I was indeed serious got a half smile on her face. The look basically said, “I-hear-what-you’re-saying-and-now-I’m-deciding-if-that’s-such-a-good-idea. I-see-that you’re- excited-about-this-so-how-can-I-say-no? Even-though-I-really-want-to.”
So a half hour later I finally convinced Andrea that I was ready for this challenge and I immediately put my plan into action. My plan? To pack anything I could possibly need into the trunk of our car (except the babies, they won’t fit in the trunk). This included, our deluxe Graco DuoGlider Travel System stroller, a cheap umbrella stroller, a Snugli (with the thought I might want to put one in the Snugli and the other in the umbrella stroller), my diaper bag filled with all of the necessary items (including about 20 diapers because you never know when your kids are going to want to go bar hopping and need to pee every 10 minutes), our new bottle holder/feeder and a few toys. Once I was packed, we changed the babies into cute outfits and put them in their infant car seats. Before you knew it, I was backing down the driveway while Andrea, I’m sure, danced around an empty house for the first time in months.
I headed for Babies-R-Us because Andrea has hinted about wanting a stroller cover so the babies can be strolled without burning their sensitive little skin. The weather has been hot here and this day was no exception – about 90 degrees – so I blasted the air conditioner as we headed toward the highway. I rode away with a giddiness that lasted approximately two blocks when I realized the sun was shining directly on the babies through the back window. I pulled over, ran around to both sides to adjust their sun screens, and, satisfied they would not burn to a crisp on my watch, once again took off.
After arriving at Babies-R-(All-Around)-Us, I put TheMonk in the Snugli and carried Swee’Pea’s infant carrier over to a cart and locked it into the front part of the cart. Once in the store I browsed the store looking for reasons to spend money on things the babies probably don’t need. Not being too inspired, I settled on new sun shades and mirrors for the car and picked up the stroller cover Andrea wanted. While traversing through the store I began to notice that I was being watched. Not only was I being watched, I was getting serious smiles from all of the mothers around me as they realized that I had two babies with no maternal unit close by. I started to smile back and nod, as if to say, “Yeah ladies, can your husband do this?”
By the time I left the store, I was puffing up with pride. I could do no wrong! I’m Super Dad!
That feeling lasted exactly 30 seconds as I had trouble extracting TheMonk from the Snugli and wound up with the Snugli wrapped around my head in the middle of the Babies-R-(Going-to-Get)-Us parking lot. I got into the car and realized how warm it was about the same time the babies did. They began to cry as I cranked the AC and began singing any song that came into my mind. For some reason, they didn’t respond to my stirring rendition of Hoobastank’s “The Reason” (I’m not a perfect person…) so I began the empathizing soothing chant, “I know… I knoooooooow… We’re almost there… We’re almost theeeeeeere, babies.” This was equally ineffective but allowed me the satisfaction that I was trying to do something even if it was really no help at all.
Somehow, we managed to get to the shopping mall without any of us melting. I kept the AC blasting as I got out of the car and set up the stroller faster than a NASCAR pit crew. I began throwing everything I could see into the holding area of the stroller. Before you knew it, I had the manly diaper backpack strapped to my back with both babies snapped into the stroller. We were off.
I made a beeline to the Barnes and Noble book store where I perused children’s books. The book store, apparently, is where lots of mommies take their kids and then sit around striking up conversations with any adult that happens to pass by. It is here, I am told for the first time, “You’re a brave man!” I smile and thank them but inside I’m thinking “Damn straight, lady.”
Anyway, it is about this time that TheMonk begins to cry. I pull him out of his infant carrier and put him on my hip. I hold him while I look at books and then push the big stroller with my books perched precariously on top towards the front of the store. Here I notice a big comfy chair not being used so I plop TheMonk down and quickly don the Snugli. I put TheMonk in here and proceed to the checkout. I pay for my purchases and head out to look for a Hallmark store. It is now that I begin to pass numerous parents pushing strollers. As I pass one couple with their baby in a stroller I can see in their faces the instant both realize I have twins with me. As we pass, I see the father shake his head vigorously back and forth as we pass. I imagine him thinking that his wife will be sure to mention this the next time he doesn’t want to take their baby out alone.
I find the Hallmark store and get cards from both me and the babies. It is now that Swee’Pea starts to cry and no amount of consoling soothes her. I pay for the cards as the cashier tells me that I “have my hands full.” I smile a slightly frazzled smile thinking we might have to call it a day. But, I discover that Swee’Pea just wants to keep moving and as soon as I start pushing the stroller with gusto, she quiets down. Next we head to Bath and Body Works for Andrea’s favorite lotions. The AC in the store is broken and we all begin to sweat profusely. I am flustered when I realize that Andrea’s favorite scented lotion is no longer being sold. Where’s Juniper Breeze, for cryin’ out loud?! I start to panic. The old standby, where is it?! Ohmygod, what do I do? But then I pull it together, find something that I think smells nice and go to purchase it. Again, everyone tells me how brave I am. TheMonk and Swee’Pea are both alert and awake at this point so they do their best to impress. Since I’m the only man in the store, all the women gather around and coo about how cute they are. I’m thinking they’re going to have to sign autographs just to get out of there but soon the crowd dissapates and we leave and head straight for the food court.
Once at the food court I order a burger and fries and start getting the babies ready to feed. I hook up the bottle holder to TheMonk’s carrier, take him out of the Snugli and place him in his carrier while it’s in the stroller. I insert the bottle and he starts going to town. I place Swee’Pea’s baby carrier on the table with me and feed her with one hand while eating with the other. It’s far simpler than I imagined and before I know it, we’re done and ready to go.
Before we leave I have to use the rest room and the babies need changing. I head to the restrooms where I find a great diaper changing station complete with sink outside the rest room area. I change both of them with only a little fussing and get them back into their carrier. Once I’ve reassembled everything we head out. I’m about half way to the car when I realize that I never did go to the restroom. Damn. Oh well, it’s probably better that I didn’t try this time.
Once at the car, I pull the stroller along side the car, jump in and start the engine and blast the AC, hoping to get the car cooled down for the ride home. In the meantime I unload the stroller of everything but the babies. The parking lot is crowded, and about this time a woman pulls up and is obviously waiting for my spot. Her window is rolled down and once I realized she was waiting for me I told her, “I’m probably going to be here a little while,” while pointing at the stroller. She replied, “Oh, I didn’t see the stroller” and she pulled away.
Having bought myself some time, I pull the babies out and put them in their car seat bases and make sure their harnesses are secure. Once the babies are in, I return my attention to the stroller. The stroller is huge and takes up almost the entire trunk space. I realize I have not left myself enough room in the trunk with all of my purchases so I have to rearrange the goods to get the stroller in. Finally, about 10 minutes after arriving at the car I am pulling out of the space and heading for home.
The AC has not sufficiently cooled the car down and about half way home the babies start to cry – in unison. The day is breaking down. DAMN YOU HOT WEATHER! The smart thing is to take them directly home and declare victory. But I’m still reveling in my Super Dad status so I push the envelope. I decide to stop off and pick up the clay imprints of TheMonk and Swee’Pea’s hands and feet we made at the do-it-yourself ceramic pottery place. Andrea will love it if she gets these on her birthday. I’ll just run in and out. I’ll be really quick.
Uh, yeah. Good plan except the closest parking spot is about a quarter mile away. I don’t care. I’m on a mission and if that means treking across the hot, sunbaked parking lot with an infant carrier dangling from each arm, then so be it. As I cross the parking lot, I can feel both arms getting longer. I picture my knuckles dragging along the ground after I put the babies down but I see I’m getting close. My arms also begin to burn. I make a mental note to check into these steroids everyone’s talking about. Ignoring the pain, I bear down and make it to the door. Once inside I carefully make my way to the back where the cashier is. The place is obviously not designed to accomodate one man carrying two baby carriers and I bonk TheMonk’s carrier (or was it Bri’s) on each table as I go by. I get to the back where I tell the young worker why I’m there and she gets out our plates.
Plates in hand, I realize I don’t have anyplace to put the plates. So, I ask TheMonk to hold onto them and tuck them into his carrier. He doesn’t seem to mind. We head back across the
Sahara parking lot where I get one more “Wow, you got your hands full” before I get into the car with the babies. It’s only 10 minutes to home but they cry the whole way. Once again, my singing ability is woefully inadequate and not even a duet with me and Kelly Clarkson singing “Behind these Hazel Eyes” calms them down. No matter because we finally pull into our driveway. I am home three and a half hours after beginning the trip.
I pull the babies from the car and carry them inside. I am greeted by my wife Andrea.
“So, how’d it go” she asks.
“Piece of cake.” I reply