Juliet was tired. I think. And she was still nursing a cold.
It was just the two of us, lounging around the house on a rainy day. Maddie was at school, due to be picked up in 45 minutes. I began to strategize my next mission.
As any parent, cook or professional jewel thief will tell you, timing is critical in all operations. It is often the key element between a successful souffle and a flop, or a clean getaway and getting nabbed by the fuzz, or even a harmonious home and all out pandemonium. It helps you when you’re in tune with your kids and you can recognize the signs of fatigue, or hunger, or boredom, so that you can prevent any tantrums or breakdowns. Of course, we know that these outbursts are badly needed sometimes by little ones who need to vent feelings that they do not understand. Hell, let’s face it, I’m the same way. But keeping the drama to a minimum is often important to the mental health of said parent, who is rushing to quell several small emotional emergencies each day.
So where were we? Oh yes, Juliet was lagging. My usual method of strolling her to sleep was out due to the weather. She doesn’t fall asleep this way in less than 30 minutes anyhow, cutting it too close for my liking. I considered my next option. Although she is 14 months of age now, more toddler than baby, we still load her in a pouch from time to time and wear her around the house like some human-kangaroo hybrid, sans the leaping. Add to that a darkened room and a CD entitled Sounds for Silence (“Blended and layered sounds to distract, engage and soothe unsettled babies”) and you’ve got yourself a fine recipe for nodding off. Well, for Juliet anyways. We all know that every baby is different. We became motivated early in on in Juliet’s life to find a way to sooth her on account of the colic. It took us many attempts before we hit on the right combination, a customized made-to-order solution that we were frankly quite proud of, as it has undoubtedly saved us from innumerable hours of moaning and crying. Once again, however, the timing of this procedure came into question. If Juliet was still asleep when we needed to hop into the car, the transfer from pouch to car seat would most certainly wake her, and she would not be happy. I know this to be true.
I was left with my third and final option – driving her to sleep, old school style. Well, old school to me anyways. This was my method of choice during Maddie’s early years – a slow, winding drive through the nearby hills. It usually happened on the tail end of running some errands. As we approached our street I would glance back to check on her status. If she appeared sleepy I would just keep going, zooming by our neighborhood. If not sleepy, then home it was. This all worked fine until she began to recognize our street, becoming highly distraught when I would just blow on by.
These thoughts came to me like a dream as I loaded Juliet into the car. All of this felt so familiar, yet it was different now. Different car, different child, different me. Definitely different child. While Maddie had succumbed easily to the lulling movement of the auto, Juliet has been curiously resistant to the magic. In fact, she HATES the car seat. We have taken her on a few long road trips and she has successfully fought off sleep every time, with a mighty will and exhausting bouts of back arching and crying.
So it is with some trepidation that I set off on down the road. I whistled nervously.
“OK Juliet, here we go!” I flashed a half-hearted smile. She looked back suspiciously.
As we began to wind our way past farms with open fields, I turned on the heat and the CD player. Sounds for Silence began to play, tunes that shall evermore be ingrained in my mind. Whenever I hear it now I instantly go into a trance, its hypnotic allure too powerful for the likes of me. I haven’t fallen asleep at the wheel yet, but it is awfully relaxing. And when the whole family is riding along, well, look out. It’s non stop excitement as we all begin to nod off in unison. Under these conditions, and given our wacky sensibility, we have dubbed our vehicle The Wombmobile.
After about a mile I checked on Juliet. Her eyes were closing! And with 5 minutes to go until the Maddie Pickup. Yes! I turned the car around and headed back. Cows and horses turned their heads as we passed, wondering, no doubt, about the jubilant driver and the odd sounds emanating from this speeding vehicle. I pulled up to Maddie’s school and parked just outside the gate. She emerged with her classmates a minute later. I went to meet her and led her back to the car. Soon we were home.
Just another successful parenting mission. I love it when a plan comes together. (cue A-Team music)