The first year of Henry’s life I took him to ridiculous places. My desperation for contact with the outside world overpowered my common sense. I craved entertainment beyond Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood and Sesame Street. I desired a meal beyond two slices of wheat bread with deli meat. I fantasized about adult conversation in trendy coffee shops.
If you are the parent of a small child, I understand how it feels when the walls start closing in at home, because I have felt the same way. You cling to any reason available to get out of the house. This past week, I reflected on the crazy places I took my son and compiled a short list of my dumbest choices. In hindsight, I choose to laugh at them because I believe it’s necessary for parents to retain our sanity. My hope is you will share a laugh or possibly identify with my experiences.
Below are the five dumbest places I took my infant son:
1. Department of Motor Vehicles
I blame sleep deprivation and vehicle registration for my decision to take Henry to the Chicago DMV. We stood in line for a thousand hours. Henry was strapped to my chest in the Moby wrap with no place to roam. He spit breast milk on the woman behind me and played his favorite game, which consists of repeatedly shoving his hands in my mouth. I ran out of milk. He screamed. Everyone in line probably wished to push us out the doors. When I reached the front of the line, I was informed one of my identification documents was insufficient, which made the trip a complete loss. If I owned a Flux Capacitor, I would install it in my Subaru and go back in time to the morning I made the decision to travel to the DMV, and slap myself in the face.
2. Art Institute of Chicago
My friend, Jason, invited me to view a special exhibit at the Art Institute in Chicago. His membership allows him to take a friend for free. Generously, he asked me to join him, probably expecting me to say no since I was caring for Henry on weekdays. Desperate for a taste of culture, I accepted his offer. Henry lasted ten minutes in the special exhibit before I had to remove him to the lobby. The museum provided an opportunity for him to practice his echo and balance against the stone columns. In another exhibit, I sat him on the floor for a minute to admire the centerpiece. Of course, he crawled to the trip wire in front of another painting and yanked, prompting the security to enter the exhibit. I do not plan to enter a museum for several years.
3. Pretentious coffee shop
I confess that I am coffee snob. My wife finds it obnoxious, but it’s my thing. Intelligentsia, one of the finest coffee shops in the country, claims Chicago as its home. Their hand-poured coffee costs four to five dollars a serving, which makes it a special treat. I love it, and decided one winter day I must drink a cup. I entered the shop with Henry strapped to my chest not bothered by the hipsters and suits who turned to stare at me. My order, the Guatemalan brew, was served on a wooden tray with a sturdy ceramic cup and glass carafe. Henry spent the entire time attempting to dip his fingers in the steaming java. Drinking the coffee proved to be impossible because every time I raised it towards my mouth Henry swatted at it. I managed to drink a third of my cup before abandoning the effort. In the end, I paid five dollars to play a game of keep away with Henry for half an hour.
4. Macy’s dressing room
Summertime arrived and my cargo shorts unraveled to the point they were no longer acceptable in public, at least to my wife’s standards. Henry and I boarded the red line train and traveled to Macy’s in downtown Chicago. The gigantic store features multiple floors including one dedicated solely to men’s clothing. We rode the escalator to the men’s floor and discovered a rack of shorts on sale. Jackpot! After I pulled a few pairs of shorts from the rack, we made our way to the dressing room. I sat Henry on the floor with a few toys from the diaper bag. He crawled underneath the stall to the neighboring stall and escaped to the hallway, which made things tricky for me while I was stripped down to my boxer shorts. After corralling him, he picked the straight pins off the floor from previous customers and stuck them in his mouth. It was a disaster, but I did purchase new shorts.
5. Verizon Wireless
My iPhone broke leaving me unplugged from the world. I could no longer stand the malfunctioning phone, so I took Henry to the Verizon store. He hit the ground running and lapped the iPhone display enough to complete a half-marathon before proceeding to trash the case shelf. I was eighth on the waiting list. Thankfully, the wise manager understood the potential for destruction and bumped us up quickly to see a representative. He averted destruction. God bless his soul.