Run, Ol­lie, run

Maryland Independent - - Classified - By Me­gan John­son Twit­ter: @right­meg

When I’m on my own with Oliver, we typi-cally stay home. It’s not that I’m a her­mit (though I cer­tainly have my mo­ments). I just find it dif­fi­cult to muster the en­ergy to wran­gle a tod­dler by my­self, es­pe­cially while preg­nant, and it’s eas­ier to just run er­rands when I’m on my own. I can com­plete a Tar­get run in half the time with­out lit­tle paws reach­ing for ev­ery­thing in ev­ery aisle — a univer­sal truth ac­cepted by par- ents ever ywhere.

Of course, our kids usu­ally come with us be­cause . . . well, they’re our kids. We can’t ex- actly leave with­out them. But as much as my hus­band and I can ar­range to run er­rands in- de­pen­dently or get tasks com- pleted dur­ing the week while Ol­lie par­ties with his buddies at day­care, the less likely I am to lose my mind.

I’m see­ing now why well-mean­ing folks told us to “en­joy” the new­born stage. Aside from the sleep de­priva- tion, it was ac­tu­ally pretty great to be able to plunk Ol­lie down like an adorable pa­per­weight and have him stay pre­cisely where we put him. There were no fears about a tod­dler slip­ping through the baby gate to as­cend a stair­case; no pierc­ing ter­ror when I re­al­ize it’s been quiet for a whole 60 sec­onds and Oliver has un­doubt­edly fled through the front door.

It’s much eas­ier to stay home be­cause we’ve baby-proofed. All two of our price­less fam­ily heir- looms are se­cured out-of-reach, so the down­stairs is open terri- tory for a cu­ri­ous 20-month-old. Ol­lie still gets into mis­chief, be­lieve me, but it’s mostly of the pull-out-ev­ery-pot-and-pan vari- ety. If un­wrap­ping in­di­vid­ual tea bags, dis­man­tling a hot pot and throw­ing pa­per­work like con­fetti makes him happy, I tend to go along with it.

I do have some bound­aries, though. We all do; we must. They’re con­stantly be­ing stretched and tested and prov- en ob­so­lete, but hey: I try. My hus­band is ad­mit­tedly bet­ter at keep­ing them, but we’re work- ing on it.

I made plans Satur­day to meet up with my fam­ily at a lo­cal Christ­mas mar­ket with Oliver while my hus­band was at an- other event. I set this up a while ago, with­out re­ally con­sid­er­ing the tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties that would ac­com­pany get­ting Ol­lie fed, dressed and loaded up to ven­ture to La Plata on my own.

In the year and a half since my son was born, I have never taken him shop­ping alone. And I’ve rarely — if ever? — taken him to an event in­de­pen­dently. Just pack­ing up his stuff was a feat: stroller, di­a­per bag, food, drinks, blan­kets, socks and shoes, en­ter­tain­ing books for the road. We were headed a whole 20 min­utes south, but I’m noth­ing if not pre­pared.

This prob­a­bly sounds ridic- ulous. I mean, I’m his mother — can I re­ally be that in­ex­peri- enced at this stage in the game? But here’s the truth: I have a team­mate. Spencer does the heavy lift­ing (lit­er­ally) while I tend to more be­hind-the-scenes tasks: like mak­ing sure we al­ways have clean di­a­pers, wipes and spare plas­tic bags for the road. And Oliver’s fa­vorite blan­ket. And more snacks, ’cause “too many tod­dler snacks” is not a thing.

Wrestling Oliver into his socks, shoes and jacket are not my typ­i­cal du­ties. Even dur­ing the week, as I get us both ready for work and day­care, I tend to avoid tack­ling the shoe/sock combo un­til I have him safely strapped in his carseat. He’s tough to se­cure.

At the Kris Kringle Mar­ket in La Plata on Satur­day, I met up with my par­ents, sis­ter and brother-in-law to shop and graze from the many food ven­dors. It was the cold­est day we’ve ex­pe­ri­enced yet, I think, and I had Ol­lie bun­dled: think Ral­phie’s lit­tle brother in “A Christ­mas Story,” wedged in a stroller and un­able to move his arms. I knew my par­ents would ap­prove.

You see, if left to my own de­vices, I’m the fool walk­ing around with no coat in 30-de­gree weather. I’m eas­ily over­heated, and get­ting over­heated means get­ting ir­ri­tated — es­pe­cially while preg­nant. I wrong- fully as­sume other peo­ple are hot when they are, in fact, freez- ing. I try not to ex­tend this to my son.

Oliver lasted in the stroller for about a half hour. Since get­ting his sea legs ear­lier this fall, there’s no stop­ping the kid — lit­er­ally. First he wants out of the stroller for that de­li­cious taste of free­dom, and then he’s cat­a­pult­ing from your arms to run as far as his baby legs will take him.

A few folks called out to me as I ran by, hear­ing me shout “Oliver! Oliver!” of­ten enough to gain the at­ten­tion of a ware- house full of peo­ple. He was dodg­ing, he was weav­ing, he was cack­ling like a mon­key: any­thing to gain some trac­tion and shoot ahead of us, the scamp.

I had help, of course. My brother-in-law is a strap­ping guy who car­ries him with ease — some­thing a ro­tund, pe­tite woman like me doesn’t quite man­age. When Oliver is try­ing to get away from me, I look like I’m fight­ing a bob­cat . . . and the bob­cat is win­ning. Eric ran in­ter­fer­ence, grab­bing Ol­lie as he at­tempted to rip power cords from out­lets or dash into em­ploy­ees-only side rooms, while I huffed be­hind them. Al­ways watch­ing from a dis­tance.

So I was on my own, but not on my own. Not at all. And this was a bless­ing, for sure, con­sid­er­ing we all went for lunch at a sit-down place af­ter­ward — some­thing Spencer and I don’t at­tempt on even our bravest days.

Five adults to han­dle one tod­dler.

Sounds about right.

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