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December 2012 / Bronx/​Riverdale Family / Brooklyn Family / Long Island Family / Manhattan Family / Queens Family / Staten Island Family

Taking a baby with you wherever you go

Along for the ride

When deciding to have a child, you think about all the big responsibilities — feeding, changing diapers, losing sleep. But you don’t think about spontaneous cravings for Funyuns.

And if you want to run to the corner store for a bag after you have a baby, it’s going to become an hour-long production. Suddenly, there’s all these extra little responsibilities involved — a tiny hat, mini-mittens, baby booties, a fuzzy coat with sheep ears on the hood — not to mention a stroller or carrier, a bottle, diapers, and changing pad (just in case!). Oh, and a toy to keep the baby occupied — which you’ll have to go back to look for once you realize she dropped it somewhere along the way.

Actually, better make that an hour-and-a-half-long production.

That’s the new law of the land: where you go, she goes.

Owing to the cataclysmic storm named Sandy that barreled through this area (and by “area,” I mean “seaboard”), my wife and I have had lots of extra places to go lately.

My wife is a teacher, and not only was her school knocked out of commission by the floodwaters, but several of her colleagues and students found their homes — and lives — washed away.

In the aftermath of the storm, my wife began coordinating with teachers from her school — as well as with friends and generous strangers all around Brooklyn — to round up supplies for people who had seen everything they owned submerged by the surge of a swollen ocean.

My wife is admirably proactive. I just happen to have dumb luck on my side and, purely by chance, I filled up the gas tank of our car a couple days before the storm hit, so we were in the perfect position to do some good. We spent a lot of time driving around to different people’s homes picking up donated clothes, toys, books, and other necessities.

Throughout these excursions, baby Hazel was along for the ride. It seems funny to drag a baby along on such errands, but she is travel-size.

Driving in Brooklyn can be harrowing on an ordinary day, but after the storm it only became worse. The subways were out of commission, and with so many people surprisingly eager to get to work, the roads became more crowded and hostile than ever. Over and over again we found ourselves caught in a traffic jam, only to discover that it wasn’t so much “traffic” as a gas station line, stretching for 15 blocks.

That was enough to sour our moods, but to make matters worse, my wife and I were both recovering from a shared case of “walking pneumonia” (fortunately baby Hazel isn’t walking yet, which must be the reason why she didn’t catch it).

The result of all of this was that in the midst of our noblest efforts, little Hazel was subjected to some of our worst moments, including the treacherous game of chicken with the driver of a box truck who thought he could selfishly cut in front of a line of 10 cars, and the subsequent verbal exchange that followed.

It’s funny that even in the midst of historic events, our baby is oblivious to anything beyond her immediate needs and interests. Whether we’re at home, in a grocery store, or double-parked outside of an apartment building so we can pick up a box of toys destined for another little kid who three days earlier was terrified to see his own bedroom fill up with water, our 9-month-old baby is just happy to see that someone is there to offer her a goofy smile and a bottle of formula.

For me, those post-hurricane days weren’t much different than the average weekend — my wife tells me where we need to go and I oblige. But for my daughter, it’s the beginnings of our family mythology — the Flood of Two Thousand Twelve. And for someone else’s kids, it’s the start of re-building their lives.

There are so many things we take for granted —most of the time we feel like we are in control of our lives — but in the midst of something so much bigger than ourselves, that’s when we realize we’re all just along for the ride.

Tim Perrins is a part-time stay-at-home dad who lives with his wife and their brand-new tiny human in Park Slope, Brooklyn. More of his thoughts about babies and other things that confuse him can be found at www.RevoltOfTheImbeciles.blogspot.com.

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