Sunday, January 3, 2010
The Big Chill
In retrospect, riding our bikes to the newspaper stand might not have been the best idea this morning.
At the time, though, it seemed like the right thing to do: we'd been virtual slugs since we go home, minus all the work to have a tiny NYE part, de-Christmas the house, unpack and basically get back to life after a week in Maine.
Maybe it was the relatively balmy weather that caused me to forget that it's winter, but in any event, I tore Alison away from the television where she'd been affixed like Mighty Putty and declared we were going to get the paper.
We could have walked, but I thought the bikes would be faster, and she'd wanted to get them out a few weeks ago.
Jeff got home from basketball before we went, so off we wheeled.
"Mo-om. I'm cold," complained my little screen addict.
"It'll get better," I said, "Let's go!"
Alison eschews layering even in the dead of winter, but I'd tried to bundle her. I failed to layer her pants, though, and she'd complained that her hat didn't fit under her bike helmet. But the sun was out and I thought it wouldn't be too, too bad.
What I didn't know was that it was 17 degrees out. And I'd forgotten how much wind you generate when you're on a bike. Even going slowly, it's like sticking your head in the freezer and having a wind tunnel at the back blowing bits of invisible ice against your ears.
Ears aren't much meant for cold weather. She complained the entire way, her tears freezing on her little cheeks. I would probably have turned back by the time we got to the park, but we were with Captain Reed, who has the mistaken beleif that Ali needs to toughen up.
So we soldiered on. He warned her to be careful coming down the hill because one portion of the street was ice-covered. She did well through it but wiped out on a smaller patch of ice about a block away.
"I want to go home," she said for the 195th time. I think she would have sobbed but it was too cold for her emotions to flow freely.
"We're almost there, honey," I said, "We'll zip in, get warm and zip right back home. It'll get better. I promise."
She looked at me, red-faced, miserable. "I think my fingers have fallen off inside my gloves," she wailed.
Pretty sure hypothermia was still hours away, I encouraged her to get up and we'd be home in no time.
The captain was frustrated. He stopped, looked back from his bike and told me to stop babying her.
I'm there in the street, guilt-ridden for pulling my baby out in the frigid air and wondering if I can convince him to go get the car and he tells her, essentially, to "man up."
She's 8. It was frickin' 17 degrees outside. And she'd wiped out on a patch of ice on her bicycle.
We didn't yell at each other; we didn't even curse. Hell, maybe we did but our words got frozen in those quote bubbles you see in the comics. They could still be hanging there in the air in Forest Hills, waiting for the Spring thaw.
In any case, she got up, we biked onward and got to the newspaper stand. Jeff got there before us and from the sound of things, Matt was clued in to the angst. I got Ali in the door, put my ear muffs on her and gave her my gloves. We got the paper and went back out to face the frozen tundra.
By the time we got back to the park, I could see the house and it was all I could do not to sob, "I want to go home." My ears were bare, my hands were freezing and I swear the wind was playing tag with itself inside my fleece jacket. Ali, however, was doing well.
I warmed her up with some piping hot Ramen and she was de-icicled in no time.
We stayed inside the rest of the day. We had a visit from Drew, Jenna, Amy and Aunt La so all was forgiven and/or forgotten.
Amy awarded me Mother of the Year 2010, and I have to admit I deserve the title. She'd been carrying it around since she took Jenna to day care without a diaper on the day Jenna decided to have explosive diahrrea.
It's early. She has plenty of time to win it back.