Throughout my life I've been made fun of for many, many reasons. My husband likes to make fun of me for having the sinuses and allergies of a hilarious teen movie nerd from central casting, as well as for pretending like my life is a musical. A typical morning in our home sounds like this:
It's time for PRINCELING!
To eat his YOGURT!
Yummy yummy YOOOOOGUUUUURRRRRRT!
My husband constantly tells me that I am solely responsible for keeping Kleenex in business.
Back in my freshman year of college, when I thought it would be a good idea to go from the flat, tropical landscape of my hometown of Miami, Florida, to a college at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, Colorado, I got made fun of for not knowing how to live in a climate in which the seasons changed every few months.
Miami typically has two seasons, and you can tell them apart because one is rainier and stickier than the other. Winters in Miami are generally quite tolerable, whereas the summers turn you into one of the Nazis at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark. So when I went off to Colorado, the first time I saw a leaf change colors I squealed with delight and taped it to my dorm room wall. Later, a friend dragged me to Wal-Mart and held up a device for my perusal that looked to me like a shoeshine brush mated with a squeegee. My friend asked me what I thought of it, and I blinked in confusion and said, "...what IS it?" She laughed at me and bought it anyway. I later learned that the squeegee part is for chipping ice off windshields and the brush part is for brushing snow off windshields.
Honestly, growing up in a place where it never snows, how was I supposed to know that???
So then I moved to New York, where I've been living for 14 years now and have adapted to the seasons. I've got my trusty Sorel boots for the hardcore snow, several varieties of winter hats and scarves and a three-quarter length winter coat (long enough to cover my butt and thighs but not so long that I trip over it) with a hood (for when I forget my hats) and buttons (so the zipper doesn't stick or break). After 14 years I thought it was safe to say that this Miami-native had successfully conquered winter living.
Then I had a baby.
Again, I say to you: when you grow up in a place where the average winter temperature is 67 degrees, how are you supposed to know what to do with a baby in the snow?
The Princeling's first winter was pretty uneventful. We didn't get much snow, and anyway he was too little for it to be an issue. Mostly we bundled him up in cute fleece outfits that had animal ears on the hoodies and talked about how we couldn't wait to take him sledding when he's older.
Like we know how sledding works. Right. We'll see.
Right now, however, he's a toddler and we have places to go and things to do. He has daycare twice a week, playgroups with his friends, and ants in his pants that keep him from enjoying a nice snowy day curled up inside with Mommy. Since New York City is a pedestrian town, taking him out requires more than simply getting him to and from the car, especially since we have no car.
Are you following me thus far? What I'm saying is that when I want to take a nearly 16-month old squirmy and stubborn little boy outside in the snow, my choices are: 1)let him walk, 2)push a stroller through the snow, 3)carry him, or 4)pull him on a toboggan.
We don't have a toboggan. And he still falls down while walking indoors on flat, dry surfaces. That leaves us with two equally frustrating and physically demanding options.
The first time I tried to push a stroller through the snow was an unmitigated disaster. I thought it would be a good idea to use our big stroller with the hardcore wheels and sturdy frame. I was wrong. Several feet from our building I managed to mire the stroller in several inches of snow and couldn't pull it out. People snickered as they walked past me, probably thinking to themselves, "Ha! Go back to Florida, you stupid snow rookie!" Much heaving and grunting (on my part) later, I left the stroller in the lobby of our building and carried the Princeling to daycare. Uphill. In the snow. No joke. The kid weighed about 25 pounds at the time. I thought I was going to drop dead of a heart attack, like those urban legends you hear about old men who aren't used to physical exertion and then die when they attempt to shovel their driveways.
On my way home I paid attention to what other parents did with their toddlers in the snow and found that most of them had no problems pushing strollers around the sidewalks of Park Slope. The key, it seemed, was to use lightweight strollers that would bump and glide over most of the snow and ice (like hydroplaning your car in street floods caused heavy, Miami-level thunderstorms!), and could be carried over the thicker chunks of snowdrifts.
Meanwhile, if anyone wants to invent baby snowplows that attach to the fronts of strollers, you've got your first customer right here.