Man, that first fake Spring day in February. It’s the best. After two and a half long months of weather in the 20’s and 30’s (if we’re lucky), a surprise wash of heat from the South sends the temperature surging into the 50’s, and Chicago goes nuts. You’ll find runners on the lakefront with no shirts, dad’s barbecuing with a beer in one hand, and pasty neighbors emerging from a season-long hibernation. It’s truly the best.
Except in the long run, it might be the worst. For whatever reason, despite years of experience with the February fake-out, I decide each year that winter is over and my winter coat can be set aside in favor of a light fleece. It’s Spring, baby! I can pretty much see the sun! Don’t drag me down with your “winter apparel”. And, unfortunately, Leah’s not any better and we end up dragging the kids down to our level of delusion. That was the case today as the weather dipped back down into the 30’s, bring along with it a frigid Northwest wind.
We needed a few things from the store for tonight’s dinner – things we couldn’t find at Harvesttime. So hey, why not make an outing of it and take a family walk to Jewel. It’s sunny out and it’s basically Spring. Kids, put on your sweatshirts; coats are for losers! It’s Spring!*
It actually started out pretty fun. We raised Rocky’s seat on his bike so he could get a little leverage (that boy won’t stop growing), and he was moving with a little more confidence on his bike. They would ride ahead to each street, pausing to wait for us as we sauntered up along Campbell street. Fun times, guys! High fives for Mom and Dad! Screw you, Winter! And then…
We turned into the wind. Momentum slowed as an arctic wind buffeted the kids back. They struggled to pedal, gritting their teeth as the wind turned their fingers and ears a nice, bright red.
“I can’t go, it’s too hard,” Rocky cried. Veronica, she just cried, my attempted to cover her exposed fingers failing miserably. And all the while, we were aware that this was a cross wind and it was actually going to be in our faces on the ride home.
While Leah was corralling the kids on their bikes, half dragging them to the Jewel, I was pushing Veronica in the stroller. It seemed like something was dragging, like when the diaper bag strap gets wrapped around a wheel. I took a look down, but no straps. The wheel was, however…a little askew. Huh. I took a look closer, and it was more than askew. The wheel was separated from the axle. The weld that held the wheels together had broken clean off, leaving us with one wheel drift away from the stroller.
So we were a mile from the house with: two frozen kids on bikes near tears, one three-wheeled stroller, and one underdressed toddler quite tearful. Man, these really are the best of times. And we still had to get home.
The way home was certainly fun, in the same way the Bataan death march was fun. Leah and I behind the kids, driving them forward, while the tears rolled down their cheeks.
Lucy: “My fingers are so cold.”
Leah: “Lucy, what did I say. Complaining about it doesn’t make it any less cold. We’re already well aware that you’re cold.”
Rocky: “My ears hurt so bad.” **
We finally made it to Western and Lincoln, probably a half mile from our house, when I look down. “Fuck. Leah, we’re down a shoe.” Veronica wiggled her toes in her stripped sock. Back I go to find the shoe.
The shoe only fell off four blocks back. No big deal. Add frozen toes to the list of parenting fails for the day. I grabbed the shoe and bolted back to find Leah and the kids. At this point, the stroller wheel had gone from behaving badly to behaving dead. The only way to move it was to lift the back end. At this point, Rocky just tipped over on his bike, playing dead to avoid further pain. Leah picked him up in one arm and dragged the bike along in another while I brought the stroller along behind, lifting the back wheels off the ground. But hey, at least everyone was crying.
So yes, you won Chicago. You sucked us in with your little Spring ruse and knocked us down with your Winter chill. Hope you feel good about yourself.
But hey, at least we can say lesson learned, right? Coats back on at least until mid-March?
Maybe. At least until the next fake Spring day.
* Before anyone calls DCFS, we did take jackets with us below the stroller. Light jackets. Without gloves or hats. Okay, fine, call DCFS.
** seriously, nobody wins if you call the authorities