It started out as an ordinary day in my life as a stay at home dad. Most mornings , my wife helps me get all 3 kids ready for the walk to school , where our firstborn is in pre-K. It’s about a 13 minute walk from our apartment (I can do it in 8). After she leaves, I pack up the twins in our 5 year old, reliable, City Mini double stroller (it was a hand me down from a friend with twin boys). I make sure to grab cups of milk for the road, bundle up Justin, and head out for the walk. Sometimes, it is a harrowing journey depending on how the weather decides to treat us.
However, today, wifey takes Justin to school on her own and this spares me the journey. I was thankful to be able to stay in my pajamas for a few hours more until launching into the afternoon ritual of walking to pickup our son from school with the twins in tow.
But not today.
Shortly after I had masterfully put the twins to sleep using our “Superman !” routine, I checked my Phone and saw a text from my wife. The school nurse has called her to say that Justin had thrown up at lunch, needed new pants, and must be picked up. Oh dear.
Initially I was fearful that he was really ill since the flu has been an epidemic this winter season. Then, I was selfishly annoyed that I was a going to have to pack up to half sleeping kids into winter gear and take them with me to get Justin at least 2 hours earlier than I had planned.
Nevertheless, I went into hyper focus mode and proceeded to get myself dressed, grab the twins coats and socks and shoes, dress them while they were half asleep with all the stability of a bowls of jello, place them in our old reliable CityMini double and we were out the door in record time(, if people kept records of uninteresting times that is).
I was accustomed to taking this trip every day early in the morning and late in the afternoon since Justin started UPK. I would see the same faces; adults bringing kids to school, local workers at the gas station always greeting us and neighbors on their way to work.
But I noticed that this was was different; it was the middle of the day, kids were already in school, most adults had arrived at their jobs already. The streets were very empty, like a ghost town.
That’s when the wobbling started. It did not strike me as odd since the stroller was sometimes shaky and the sidewalks are not level in all places.
Then I heard a cracking noise.
I stopped pushing the Stroller and looked down at two wheels that looked oddly familiar. They were the same as the City Mini wheels. That seemed odd. The twins were still asleep and the concrete was cold, but not covered in snow, so I put on the safety brake to keep the stroller from moving and I stooped really low for a closer inspection.
Lo and behold, 2 of the 4 wheels had popped off, so my City Mini was down to 6 wheels.
I felt about 50 emotions in less than 10 seconds.
Anger. Why is this happening now? I have to get my sick son and now I have to deal with this?
Frustration. This day has already been a mess, this makes everything much worse.
Fear. How the heck am I gonna make it to my sons school on 6 wheels and back home? What do I do if the other wheels fall off? Carry the stroller on my back like ATLAS carrying the earth? Why are the streets so empty with no one to lend me a hand or ask if I need assistance?
Sadness. This was the one emotion I didn’t expect expect to feel in this moment. I was sad, not just because the wheels falling off meant paying big bucks for a replacement, but because the wheels falling off meant that this trip to pick up my sick son would likely be the last time I could use the city mini again.
We had been through so many adventures, Trips to Vermont, trips to the Intrepid and so many more that would never happen.
After fiddling with the wheel and realizing the issue was beyond my limited mechanical skills, I took off the breaks, put the two broken wheels in the back pocket of the stroller, and took off up the block wheelbarrow style to continue my journey.
I arrived my son’s school 3 minutes later and after scaling the steps with the twins still asleep in the stroller because I was too stubborn go around the corner to use the wheelchair entrance, I pressed the buzzer to let the office know I had arrived to pick up my son.
Minutes later, they brought him downstairs in a pair of shorts I am pretty sure where not his because I had forgotten to put replacement clothes in his backpack for occasions just like this. He did not look ill, but said he had fish sticks. I am guessing they just did not agree with him because he ate like a horse the rest of the day without any issues.
Luckily, the walk home was much less eventful and the rest of the wheels stayed on the City Mini, with twins still fast asleep in their makeshift wheelbarrow stroller. Seeing the two wheels in the back pouch, my son asked question after question about what happened to the stroller. The City Mini is still at its usual spot in our home. For some reason, I did not have the heart to put it out that Friday night so it would be taken on the garbage truck Saturday morning. It had been with us through so many good times (and another family too). I did not want to rush to trash it quite yet. It deserves (it’s still there) a few more days before being recycled, hopefully into a new deluxe city mini to be used by another family.
Sofia eventually woke up but was still sleepy so I put her on the couch with a blanket and, while Justin and I were playing in the bedroom, Jackson still slept in the stroller. He slept until he woke up and half asleep tried to exit an imbalanced stroller. Luckily the stroller is low to the ground. Justin and I heard a crash and rushed to the living room to find Jackson on the floor with a look on his face as if to say “What on earth did I miss?” If you only knew, buddy.
Maybe I will read this story to him in a few years to get a good laugh.