Friday, July 6, 2007

Baby Slings: The True Story

I'm a self-admitting stroller hater. Not sure what triggered the hatred within me, or even when it happened, but you will find no stroller love in my heart. This leaves me with limited options when it comes time to stroll around town w/ the kid. Huh... by just using the word 'stroll' in that sentence I think I realize the significance of the word stroller. I'm absolutely brilliant. But anyway...

So what's a parent to do if you he/she has no love for strollers? I can think of two options: Carry the kid around in your arms while dreaming of one day having biceps as large as mine, or of course, using a sling. As I already have trouble trying to board planes w/ my boys Pancho and Hopper (right and left biceps, respectively), I use a sling.

Upon first inspection, the average person uneducated in the ways of baby slinging may think that slings are pretty straight forward. Some fabric wrapped around the carrier body with the carried body buried somewhere in it with nothing but a random foot springing up here or little hand reaching out there. Little would they suspect, however, the complexity of snaps, knots, and straps involved in attaching this kid to you. And along with that complexity, of course, comes a hefty price tag. The simplest of the slings we own is one long piece of fabric that is wrapped around your body, tied in a knot, with the kid threaded through and held in place. $40. Seriously... nothing but fabric with stitching around its perimeter to clean up the edges. The infamous ring sling: nearly $100. The Kangaroo Korner 'pouch' sling: $68. Does the wife not realize I have a Bus to rebuild, and that I have half a set of new tires wrapped up (no pun intended) in baby slings??? But I digress.

So yes... my solution to my lack of love for the strollers is the use of a sling. Which, costs aside, aren't that bad of a thing. When others have to seek out elevators, I simply take the stairs. When others have to seek out a parking spot outside an exhibit at the zoo, I simply walk right in. When others are in danger, I am there...

There's another side of the sling, however, that I must deal with. It just so happens that I am the lucky father of the cutest kid this side of the Mississippi. Off on his own, playing in a gutter, people would slam on their brakes shrieking "Oh my! Did you see that baby!?!? What a cutie!!" I know every parent thinks the same of their child, but come on, why kid yourself. So here I am, sling user/abuser, with the cutest kid this side... strapped onto me facing forward most likely wearing his shades and serenading the town with his little voice. Needless to say, we attract some attention. Everyone sitting at the sidewalk patio tables look up "Awww!", others point, some rightfully shake their heads smiling. But what you must realize is that I don't want any of it. Just let me be people. Yeah, he's cute, yeah, its adorable, but I don't put him in here and walk around town to amuse you. I'm just a stroller hater, and until someone comes up with something better (or airport security relaxes a bit) this is it. I find myself walking down the street refusing to make eye contact with passerbyers or acknowledge the gawkers. I'm sure people are torn about me. I must love my kid, as I strap him to me and lug him around town for miles at a time, yet I must not be a very affectionate father, so stone-faced and grumpy and oh my, can you imagine how I must treat the baby momma? She must cry herself to sleep at night doubting her decisions in life while at the same time trying to think of what to cook for dinner tomorrow.

To make things worse, the wife wanted a picture yesterday of the kid lying in the cradle position in the sling while singing himself to sleep. No big deal, except we were on the streets of downtown AA, and the last thing I wanted anyone to think is that this was a novelty to me, that I thought it was oh-so-cute and oh, aren't I just the cutest gosh darn father you ever saw the likes of?

But on the other hand, it could be worse: I could have an ugly kid.

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