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Bad Weather Is Expensive

Preparing for an outing with a toddler is
a bit like organizing a shuttle launch; you hit a certain point
where it’s “Go/No Go” and once you run down that
checklist and make the decision to move forward, there’s no
going back. At a certain point, your child understands exactly
where she’s going and has built up a “taste for
it” in her mind, and if you’re going to change those
plans it’d better be for something even more fun. You are
committed, and God help you if you don’t follow through.

I hit many of those “Go/No Go”
points during the morning as I get ready to go to the park. Is Cora
healthy and reasonably happy? Go for launch. Is Maddie going to be
ready on time? Go for launch. Do I have anything else that must be
done during that morning time? No? Go for launch. Have I checked
the weather radar, and is there no sign of rain on the imminent
horizon? Go for launch.

This was the checklist I ran down a few days ago as we went about
our morning routine. I was greeted by a cold, windy, cloudy day
outside, but a check of the forecast assured me small showers in
the early morning would burn off. I’m always hesitant to head
out in strong cold winds, but I didn’t see anything bad
enough to warrant cooping my kid up inside. And finally, Maddie had
been begging for days to bring her tricycle to the park and I was
out of excuses, since the truthful response of “No, because
having to haul a toddler, snacks, toys, a stroller, a tricycle and
a helmet to the park while wearing a fourteen-pound baby strapped
to my chest” was simply not good enough. So though I was
apprehensive, we were past the point of no return, and we headed
outside loaded to the gills.

Of course, one block into our walk, it began to rain. Going home
simply was not an option, since I’d planned a few necessary
errands around park time. I decided we’d walk through the
errands, then see what the weather was like by then. This
necessitated stopping in the rain, putting Maddie’s stroller
rain cover on, hauling out the umbrella for me and Cora, and
figuring out how to push the stroller, balance the trike, and hold
up the umbrella at the same time.

Of course the wind picked back up and I had to stop every half
block to turn my umbrella back inside-in. So by the time I’d
finished running my errands, I had a cranky, restless toddler on my
hands who would have, I think, revolted and adopted a new mommy if
I’d made her go home without blowing off some steam.
Fortunately for me, my friend Ingrid was as dumb as I was and had
headed outside as well, so we met in the pouring rain by the
playground and examined our options.

Ten minutes later we were ensconced in a corner of the local coffee
shop, much to the dismay of the few other patrons looking for a
quiet morning read with their latte. We took over the back of the
room and the girls bounced happily off the walls (inside voices!)
while Ingrid and I dried off. After an hour of chatting and playing
and eating scones, we girded our loins once more and headed back
out to schlep our ways home.

The day itself wasn’t outrageously expensive – about
ten bucks for all the drinks and eats – but reminded me that
winter time, with its forced indoor alternative playtimes, is more
expensive than summer time. When the weather’s a bit bad
outside, Ingrid or I will brave a few minutes of snow or light rain
to scurry to the other’s house for an indoor playdate. But if
it’s really miserable out, a walk like that is out of the
question, and Maddie and I usually end up heading to the mall. Even
if we don’t shop but simply hit the indoor play area, we
still spend almost ten dollars there, between parking (this is New
York!) and the mandatory pretzel.

So while I enjoy these little detours from our ordinary routine, I
hope there aren’t too many of them this winter. My pocketbook
can’t take too much bad weather.


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