How to Calm a Screaming Baby and Other Lies They Tell You
A car ride does the same thing for babies that The Bachelor does for women in their 30s. It totally and irrationally captivates them. Rosalie can be in the middle of a nuclear meltdown and she’ll immediately calm down as soon as the car starts moving. This not only makes errands a welcome distraction, but it also means that we can always take Rosalie for a car ride if she’s having one of said meltdowns and we’re having trouble shutting down the reactor. So, car rides are awesome, but there is a problem. The problem is that there are several variables surrounding the car ride that have the opposite reaction on a baby’s comfort. Whatever special powers a car ride has, these variables are it’s Kryptonite:
1. Getting a newborn in a car seat. I swear I could have gotten seven or eight of those Chilean miners out of that copper mine faster than I can get Rosalie in her car seat. First she’s sitting too high on the seat, then she’s sitting on the buckles, then the buckles are twisted, then the buckles won’t snap and now she’s screaming and fidgeting no matter what mood she was in when I started this whole charade. Throughout this entire ever-escalating process, it’s not uncommon to find me muttering. “Just a few more seconds and we’ll be on a car ride. Just a few more seconds and we’ll be on a car ride. Just a few more seconds and we’ll be on – WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PUT GLOVES ON HER TO GO IN THE CAR AND WHY DON’T THEY SELL SPECIAL TWEEZERS TO HELP YOU GET THESE THIMBLE-SIZED SHREDS OF COTTON ON AN IMPOSSIBLY TINY AND RAPIDLY-MOVING SET OF HANDS?”
2. The rear-mounted mirror. This is basically a miniature version of those convex mirrors you see mounted in the ceiling corners of gas stations. They’re great to be able to see the child, but the result is that you spend too much time staring at your child. Instead of checking your blind spot, you end up checking your baby’s status. “Is she sleeping yet? Is her hat pulled over her eyes? Is she looking at – WHOA, I JUST NEARLY VEERED INTO A MERCEDES!” Not only are rear-mounted mirrors a safety hazard, but it turns out that having conversations with yourself in ALL CAPS is super stressful.
3. The stop and go. When you’ve finally got a good rhythm, and when your daughter is finally sleeping soundly, you will inevitably get caught at a red light. As you wait for it to turn green, you can feel the fussiness coming from your baby. If you don’t get moving before this fussiness arrives, it’s going to build and you’ll have to start the whole cooling down process over again. To avoid red lights you find yourself taking the interstate as much as possible. And, when you’re on said interstate, you’ll drive past your exit just to make sure she stays sleeping. You’ll just drive and drive because you don’t want to have to stop the car. If I submit a blog post from Duluth in the near future, I assure you it won’t be because I wanted to stake out a seat for Grandma’s marathon.
Now, I want to be clear. These three things – while annoying – are not enough to deter you from using the car ride to keep your baby satiated. In fact, most days I’d be willing to endure much worse to get Rosalie to calm down. I’m learning these trade offs are the key to getting out of each day of parenting in one piece. It’s a continuous dance with a baby in your arms. It’s swinging her and smiling and making whatever crazy movements make her happy. It’s two steps forward and one step back. The key is to just keep dancing and do your best to make sure you don’t get kicked in the groin.
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