Hi(gh)s and lows

Hai son,

Since the weather has finally gotten summery, and I figured we should take advantage of the few days that kids are still in school before school holidays begin and everything gets crowded, I decided to take you to the Isle Adam, in hopes of some sandy, swimming, rivery fun. I’ve been wanting to check out the Isle Adam since last summer when I read about it for the first time at Babyccino.

This day was funny because it was such a mix of wonderful highs and dark lows. You didn’t sleep enough, and we caught a train at 9am because I figured we could take the 2pm train home so as to avoid the Friday rush. You also had a stuffy nose, which probably makes me a very bad parent for taking you out on that day, but conditions were perfect as far as it was going to be a hot day, and kids were still in school, so I decided to go ahead.

You whined and whined for most of the way there. On the bus going to Gare du Nord, and then on the train. You were tired and should have had an early nap, and so you were just fussing and fussing and whining so much, so much son. I don’t know. It’s weird because on the one hand, it was so frustrating, and I just sat there sighing, I couldn’t even try to comfort you because it made it even worse. The weird thing is, I don’t know if you would consider what you had as a tantrum, but I looked at it much differently from before I had children. Before I had children, I would look in horror at kids howling and writhing around, but the thing is that so far you have not had an episode where I didn’t understand why you were doing it. So even though I was frustrated, I understood that you were tired, had a bit of a stuffy nose, it was hot in the train, you wanted to crawl around on the dirty suburban train floor and put remnants of hash joints in your mouth (that’s all I needed), and so even in the midst of it, I remember thinking that it could have been worse, in the sense that you could have been inexplicably crying and that would have rendered me more powerless than I already was.

Finally, you know what I did son, I put you in the stroller, lay it all the way back, strapped you in so you couldn’t pull yourself up, and let you howl while I rocked the stroller back and forth until you fell asleep. It may seem cruel to have strapped you in like that. But my thinking was/is, that there was nothing else to do but have you sleep, that was the only thing that would calm you down. So you howled on the train, and finally went to sleep until we got to the Isle Adam.

You slept not nearly long enough, and then when we got off the train I went in search of a bakery to buy lunch for later, and I couldn’t find one and it drives me nuts when I’m in a French village and can’t find a bakery, and when we finally got to the plage, as we were laying in the sand in the morning sun you were whining and whining again, and I just started wondering why I had decided to have a child if I couldn’t do enjoyable things with him. Which is a very dark thought, I realize, son. But it was how I felt at the time. I just wanted to enjoy lying in the sand, dunking in the water, enjoying the extreme surrounding beauty overlooking the Oise river, and you were fussing. I finally took you in the water and strapped your float onto you, you seemed to like that for a bit, but then you started shivering and I got a scare that you would go into hypothermic shock so I took you out again.

You whined some more because you had your cold wet suit on you, and by then it was nearly noon and the sun was getting strong so I said to myself, ok, that was maybe a good amount of time. In the olden days I would have stayed all day, but I told myself before going that I was going to be open to everything and accept how things would come going to a sandy beach with a baby. So I got you dressed and started to pack up our things.

A funny thing happened though, once you were in your dry clothes, you seemed content for the first time that day, and started examining the sand, and looking around, and looking up at me and grinning. So we stayed like that for several minutes, me watching you looking around. But our shade had left by that point and I really didn’t want a sunburned baby, so we packed up and went.

We still had two hours to kill before the 2pm train, and I had seen a lovely spot overlooking the bridge with benches earlier, so I decided to head over there.

We sat under a weeping willow tree and ate our lunch, and were visited by various wildlife, ducks, pigeons (have I mentioned how you seem to prefer pigeons to ducks?) At one point, a large beaver came over and was munching away at some bread that a previous grandmother and child had been feeding to the ducks.

This was all so opposite to earlier in the morning. You sat under the tree, in the grass, very contentedly, exploring various sticks, waving them around your head, putting pieces of grass in your mouth, laughing, waving to the beaver, yelling “hai, hai” (this is your other new thing, saying hi, but I do not know why it seems more like the French pronunciation, “hai”).

It was the most blissful moment son, and it reminded me of how blessed I was to have a child to enjoy these things with. You were getting your feet all dirty, you were barefoot, pants covered in dirt, but to me that equated with summertime fun and besides I knew we would have a bath when we got home. I remember from my childhood how much I used to love the drive home from the beach still covered in sand and saltwater, happy from a day at the beach, and then get all cleaned up at home.

We just sat there for nearly an hour, I had thought about exploring the town a bit more and getting a coffee, but decided to embrace this moment instead.

We walked around the island back to the train station and you fell asleep for half the trip back to Paris.

Then you woke up, and I bought about 20 minutes of peace with some teething biscuits, I was glad I’d had the foresight to bring those, as you take a while to chew them into mush.

And then the rest of the way home was rough again, you howled on the 31 bus but I did understand again that you were overstimulated and also we were on the side of the bus that was directly in the sun, so you were very hot too. And all I could do was sit there, knowing it would be better when we got home.

I took a few pictures under the tree but then my phone ran out of battery, and it reminded me to not try to document, but savor the moment.

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