When I saw the snowsuit my mother had purchased for Babby in celebration of his imminent arrival in the Maritimes, I felt bad that she had wasted her money. Not only was it mild and rainy outside, but the suit itself was clearly too big. She did purchase a 3 month size, but at 12 pounds Babby isn’t the biggest of three month olds.
Mum was disappointed when I didn’t feel the need to bury my baby in padding in order to carry him through fifteen feet of drizzle before we reached the airport parking garage. The next day when we went out, she fretted over my devil-may-care plan to just carry him to the car from the front door without the snow suit. To humor her, we put it on him anyway. His feet only went halfway down the legs of the suit, and his hands were swallowed by the suit’s arms, which stuck straight out. His eyes looked out anxiously over the neck of the suit, while the hood flalloped emptily above his head.
He looked like a cross between a headless plush bear and that kid in A Christmas Story who can’t put his arms down.
“I don’t think he’ll fit into the car seat with this,” I said diplomatically, “and he might get a little warm.”
Sure enough, he didn‘t fit in the car seat with the suit for much the same reason that I wouldn’t fit in the driver’s seat if I covered myself in sofa cushions, and after half an hour of struggling with the seat straps my mother called it quits for that particular trip.
The next day, though, she was at it again.
In the meantime I was bringing him in and out of the car wearing only a warm sweater and hood. This caused my mother great concern lest her only grandchild be chilly for a few moments. She kept pushing.
“Do you want to put on his snowsuit?”
“Don’t you want his snowsuit?”
“We’d better put him into his snowsuit.”
“It’s windy out there, shouldn’t you put him in his snowsuit?”
Perhaps she thought the snowsuit offered magical protection against the Wendigo.
Eventually she figured out a way to loosen the straps and I consented to putting him back in the snowsuit. My mother lay him down, stuffed him into the suit, and then went to put on her coat while he continued to lie helplessly on the floor like a beached starfish. His eyes found mine and seemed to be thinking “how can you laugh at me at a time like this?”
We carried him out to the car, arms and legs akimbo, and with a little folding and tucking managed to stuff the suit into the car seat while little baby eyes peered at us from within the plush.
The return journey was similarly complicated. The wind was gusty and it was nice to have that protection, but the suit was so indubitubly large that I really was doing it more for my mother than for my child.
Until we got home.
He had fallen asleep in the car seat and strangely, did not wake up when I lifted him out. Since the suit prevented any bending of his body, perhaps he was not fully aware of the transition.
Despite the fact that the process of laying Babby down while asleep is only successful one time out of every ten, I still remain inexplicably optimistic and continue to attempt it often. With no real hope that he would actually remain asleep, I set him in a green rocking chair, which leans back a bit and therefore seemed like a safe place to put him. Legs stiff, arms held at ninety degree angles, Babby stirred for a moment, then sighed and settled back into sleep, pretty much standing up in the chair.
It was a minor miracle.
Unfazed by the fact that he resembled a propped-up teddy bear, Babby continued to sleep in that ridiculous get-up for over two hours. I was free! Free!!
It happened again the next day. He fell asleep in the car again on my return from lunch with a friend. I repeated my actions of the previous day, proving B.F. Skinner right about rewarded behaviors being repeated. Again, he slept for over two hours, leaving me free to have a fantastic chin-wag with my friend in my old room. We felt like teenagers again.
The next day he was fussing in the afternoon, as tends to be his wont. My father lit a fire (Babby enjoys watching the fire) and my mother suggested putting on his snowsuit, since he had slept in it so well the past two days.
It may make no sense to think “well, he dozed off twice in the car and continued to sleep while inside, so let’s dress him in the same gear just to see.” But it this same logic that leads Baseball batters to wear the same socks again and again. Again, B.F. Skinner could explain.
Babby sat propped up in the green chair, arms and legs held in place by layers of polyester, and watched the fire uncomplainingly. His eyes grew heavier and heavier and heavier…
And he slept.
He slept without the help of a car ride, being carried, or the comfort of booba. He slept without wailing or thrashing or screaming.
He just dozed off where he lay.
In that snowsuit.
That, my friends, is a miracle.
Today he is again sleeping in the snowsuit after a car ride. He hasn’t eaten in over three hours, but still he sleeps.
I have learned several things from this experience:
1) Christmas miracles still abound
2) Mothers are always bloody right