Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

Last year around this time, Tim and I remarked to one another that it would be fun to tote the baby around with us on bike rides. Not being completely idiotic, we did a bit of research and decided that he was a tad young yet and it would need to wait about a year. But, we concluded, when the time came, we would prefer to have for him a trailer that you tug behind the bike rather than the incredibly precarious seats that we grew up in, as both of us remember falling in same at least once when the driver of the bicycle lost their balance.

This decision was, apparently, relayed to my in-laws at some point and my father-in-law began a crusade to find a trailer for us. On the surface, this is a sweet gesture. And I'm mostly taking it as such. When they lived in Germany, he rode his bike to work and had a trailer that he used to put his clothes and laptop etc. in. He was happy to donate this to our cause, except for the fact that he had purchased the trailer solely for toting stuff and thus it had no way to affix a child in it. So the crusade he embarked upon was, in fact, not so much for the trailer but for a seat for his trailer.

And it's still a sweet gesture. Right until you remember that my father-in-law is the king of "putting something together that'll work." Now, don't get me wrong, there are several jurry-rigged things in our house (is it jurry rigged? Gerry rigged? Jerry rigged? You know what I mean, anyway.) Tim learned the value of duct tape at his father's knee and we have fixed and recycled many a thing. But even still, we are rank amateurs - one might even say, in the words of my Nana, plutocrats - when compared to my father-in-law.

To give you a little bit of background, in the house they used to live in, before they moved out this way, dad grew tired of the AC bill being so high. And so, to keep the cold air from sinking to the main floor (and thus causing the AC to run more), he encased the open loft-like area at the top of the stairwell in, essentially, an air lock. An airlock created out of excess lumber, duct tape, an old screen door (for the top of the stairs), and an old pool cover. If you've ever seen the movie about the kid in a bubble...this looked something like that. Except instead of the bubble being clear, it was essentially really thick blue bubble wrap (pool cover material). I don't give Tim's mom enough credit often...because she puts up with a lot. And this is just one example of many that could be given.

So this past weekend we were at their house (surprisingly airlock free still - I'm just waiting for it) and Tim's dad pointed out the chariot that was ready for us to take home. And it was, in fact, a bike trailer. And to give him credit, there was a place for the kiddo to sit. Inside the yellow and blue trailer was bungee corded and strapped an old pink carseat. I'll push the pink aside, because I'm not as nuts about boys and pink as Tim is (and honestly, I'm surprised he didn't remark on that). But what appeared to be the primary strap went across the seat in such a way I couldn't figure out how you'd get the kiddo in and out without disassembling the whole thing. Beyond that, even with all the bungees and straps...it just didn't look like the carseat would stay put should you hit a bump. All I could get was a vision of me biking down the path with the kid screaming and rattling around inside the trailer strapped into a carseat that was no longer hooked to anything.

Now, I'm sure that it probably was very safe. I am. I'm sure that I'm probably over reacting. In my head. But I still just can't get to the point that I'm willing to put my child in it and take it for a spin.

So I whispered my concerns to my mother-in-law, explained that I was a neurotic first-time mother and that it wasn't him, it was me. And then asked her to wait til we were gone before explaining it to him. My sister-in-law, of course, saw an opportunity to make me look like the ungrateful daughter-in-law that they think I am though and blurted out that I wasn't going to take it so could she have it to tote her dog around? My father-in-law was clearly hurt and confused. Tim was frustrated with me. And I'm still not actually at a point where I don't want to throttle my sister-in-law for her insanely indelicate handling of the issue. But I have gotten to the point where I can see the humor.

I'm hoping that the rest of them will get to the point of amusement soon as well. In the meantime, I'm back in the market for a bike trailer - one that was, you know, actually designed to be used for a child.


Gwynne said...

Just...priceless. It might be safer just to get the whole family a set of Big Wheels and go out on the open freeway. ;-)

Rodmonster said...

I have an old milk crate, some rope, and some old bike training wheels if ya wanna give them a try to...