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Having been deprived of her beloved
playground for over a week now, Maddie’s had a bad case of
cabin fever. Her naps have been nonexistent and she spends a lot of
time with her sad little face pressed up against the window. So
yesterday when the weather finally warmed up and the winds backed
off, we were out the door faster than you can say Show Me Your
Belly Button.

With the temperature a balmy 30 degrees, we almost wore shorts but
decided against it. We did enjoy the relative warmth, though, as we
strolled along our street, happy the sidewalks were shoveled and
the melting ice was piled on the sides. We had snacks in the
stroller and were headed to the park – what could go wrong?

And then we hit our first street corner. Of course. Corner

Regardless of how long it’s been
since a snowfall, snow and ice here stays piled up on the street
corners for a long time afterwards. Since no one’s legally
liable for this area, it becomes every commuter’s mountain to
climb and you can see people delicately picking their way up and
over the little hills as they attempt to cross a street and get to
the subway. As the days pass, a little path gets worn down and
everyone invariably places his or her feet in the small trail,
breaking it down bit by bit until you’re actually touching
ground again.

Unfortunately for a mommy, that trail is usually exactly the width
of one shoe, and there’s no way on God’s green (or
yellow snow-covered) earth you’re going to fit your stroller
on that footprint. So you’ve got to go off-road.

Few things are less humiliating than trying to force your
child’s stroller up and over the pile of wet, dirty snow
while the wheels spin, stick, or simply refuse to budge. As fellow
New Yorkers look on – not in sympathy or even amusement, but
in sheer impatience since you’re clogging up the line –
you sweat and grunt trying to get that hunk of plastic up and over
in a relatively short span of time; say, before the light changes
again and you’re in the middle of the intersection. With one
last determined heave, by sheer force of will you get the thing
crested and on the other side.

Right in the middle of a slushy, nasty puddle.

Because that’s the other winter urban trap – those
deep, icy pools that the sewer system always fails to drain. If
you’re going solo, you can simply hop over it or, worst-case
scenario, tiptoe through it and avoid getting most of your foot
wet. With a stroller, though, you grimly tip back on two wheels and
try not to soak the snack resting in the storage basket. And while
I’m sure the pricey Bugaboo, with its ball-bearing tires and
precision steering, would have handled such hills with aplomb, the
Maclaren is still the gold-standard for those of us urbanites who
have to regularly carry the $#@ thing up and down several flights
of stairs. And those little plastic wheels just don’t cut it.

After navigating several such street corners, though, we finally
made it to the park, Maddie squealing with delight as she realized
where we were. I squealed, too, but for a different reason.
Somehow, it simply hadn’t occurred to me that the playground
would still be covered in wet, icy snow: I don’t know who
I’d expected to shovel the thing, but apparently I had
because the sight of the white-robed park was a complete shock to
me. Having forced our way there, though, there was no way I was
going home now, and I once again went off-road and forced the poor
pile of plastic to make it to our usual parking area.

Once we were parked, of course, everything was fine. Maddie loved
the snow and kept up a running monologue the whole time:
“Very slippaly!” “Yes, honey, it’s very
slippery.” “Maddie careful.” “Good,
sweetie, be careful.” “Maddie walking snow.”
“Yes, you are.” “Still walking snow.”
“Good to know, honey.”

Madeleine and Naomi had a field day on the playground, picking up
chunks of melting snow and walking proudly around with their
“snowballs” as Ingrid and I tried not to think about
what was probably on that snow. The girls ran (and fell), slid
(slowly) down the (wet) slide, and enjoyed the swings (while Ingrid
and I tried to stand in a dry place to push). It was truly an urban
outdoor adventure for them and they reveled in their freedom and
physical activity. When the time came to leave, both girls wanted
to take a “snowball” home to keep, and we had to
persuade them to put their treasures in a safe spot for tomorrow.

And then we had to get back in the stroller and climb the hills all
over again.


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