After working five hours of overtime today, I came home to my family. Ann needed to run some errands, so I was going to be in charge of Sage. To make things as easy as possible, Ann’s plan was to put Sage down for her nap and then leave, theoretically giving me at least an hour or so to do some things around the house.
Five minutes after Ann left, some neighborhood kid started shrieking. There was a man with two children out at the park which is literally a stone’s throw from my house. One of the children was chasing the other, and one of the two — I couldn’t tell which — was letting out an incredibly high-pitched, incredibly loud, wordless shriek.
The man made no effort to quiet him. I wondered, briefly, if perhaps the child was not just being loud and obnoxious for its own sake, but because of a developmental disability. Some day, I will figure out why I find it easier to forgive someone if I imagine them to be disabled, when I have no evidence other than the behavior I dislike. (I am amazed at how many blind people and illiterate people, or people with no long-term memory or spatial skills, are out on the road each day. I feel bad for them. So that I don’t imagine myself firing at them with Mercury Sable-mounted missiles. Anyway.)
The noise was so loud and so high that it actually hurt my ears, and I was a good thirty or forty yards away from him at some points of his chase. It woke Sage. She was not willing to go back to sleep. She was willing to play with some of her toys for a few moments, but then she started getting fussy, because she was tired. (Imagine that.)
I had an idea. I had not taken her for a walk — just the two of us — in months. Mostly, the weather had gotten in the way. Today was a beautiful day for a walk. I put her in her stroller, grabbed my hat, my keys, and a Diet Pepsi that fit into one of the stroller’s two cupholders (two! plus a little compartment for holding other stuff! how long do they think I’m going to be walking?) and went on my way. I popped the can of Diet Pepsi almost immediately after getting the stroller off of our front stoop.
About two houses down, I hit an uneven point in the sidewalk. I watched Diet Pepsi fountain straight up out of the can’s opening. In the blink of an eye, some of it had landed on my new shirt. I grimaced.
Then I looked at Sage.
There was soda on her white socks. There was soda on her pants. There was soda on her onesie. There was soda on her arm. There was soda on the padded headrest of the car seat that fit into the stroller base. There was soda on the side of her face.
Only a few drops in each location — it’s not like she was completely drenched. But I didn’t miss anything. I had nothing with me to clean her up (rookie daddy mistake). We turned around and went the two houses back to our place, where I remembered that I had paper towels in my car.
Or, as it turned out, one half-sheet of paper towel.
I looked back at Sage. There was more soda on her face than I had first thought. It was running down her temple to her cheek. She had a thoughtful, maybe even slightly confused look on her pretty little face… and her tongue was sticking out sideways.
So, yeah, I’m pretty sure I gave my not-quite-nine-month-old caffeine-laced artificial sweetener water.