Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Finger wags

I suppose I owe my readers an explanation as to where I've been for the past two weeks.  Then again, the picture of Rijntje in the last post ought to be sufficient.  Thing is, it hasn't been busy exactly, just that the time available isn't conducive to writing thoughtful blog posts about life in the Netherlands with cats.  My days have blurred into a mix of feeding the baby and getting as much stuff done in between the feeding sessions as possible.  Which is hard to do on the best of days, when Karel's around.  When he's not, well...peanuts count as a vegetable, don't they?

Not that I'm complaining.  Rijntje is one of the easiest babies ever--he's pretty mellow, content to sit in his carseat and watch me do stuff or play with him.   He's a good sleeper, too, falling asleep with a minimum of crying, provided that you catch him at the right stage of tiredness (tired, but not so tired he's wired again). There are days when nothing goes right, but more and more are the days when I'm on top of things and everything works out and the apartment is even clean.

Being on top of things means running errands, unfortunately.  And this is when I'm glad I've lived in Philly and have acquired ample experience ignoring people.  To understand this, you have to realize that, as part of our baby-stuff-buying, I bought an enormous Quinny from an older couple whose grandson had outgrown it.  (They, in turn, bought it from a woman whose child had outgrown it--there's a whole set of stuff floating around on Marktplaats that just gets passed around the country).  Said stroller is too big to lug up the stairs, so it stays in the basement storage unit, and I take it out for longer trips--the vet, or the Albert Heijn, or to the consultatiebureau (an upcoming post), or to town.  In other words, the trip has to be long enough to justify taking 10 minutes to wrangle the thing in and out while juggling a baby and the bags.  However, most of my errands are merely across the street, either to the DA for something like moisturizer or hair ties, or to the C1000, for groceries.  Not worth the effort of taking out the stroller, in other words.

So I stick Rijntje in the Moby and pull my ginormous maternity coat over both of us, and skedaddle across the street, get stuff, and skedaddle back.  And this is when I get the stares.

I'll confess that I hadn't ever paid much attention to how people transport babies earlier, but apparently wearing one in a wrap is a novel sight and every other person stops and gawks for a moment.  The friendlier ones coo and start up a conversation about kids.  The gereformeerd ones give you the stink eye and seem to want to lecture you about how you're abusing your child by wearing him.  No joke--on my last trip I kept running into an old woman who just kept scowling at me.

The funny thing is, wearing a baby isn't unknown in the Netherlands.  You have websites selling draagdoeken that are far more flamboyant than our modest navy-blue Moby.  Maternity magazines have glossy ads showing babies in slings and beaming parents.  I very much doubt that babywearing is so new that I'm the only one doing it, but I'm pretty sure that not living in the trendy part of town (or the part of town that can afford to be trendy, if it so desired) has something to do with it.  After all, not everybody is willing to drop €70 on a giant bedsheet.