Dutch Windmill

As winters go, our first back in the Midwest has been pretty mild. It’s a bit like California, actually. It’s been wet, chilly, and no one seems to know how to drive in the rain.

Before he was born, my mother bought Ian a snowsuit. So far, we’ve had one dollup of snow. Ian hasn’t learned to crawl yet, so I felt it was unfair to suit him up and throw him into a snowdrift. The snowsuit now hangs in the closet, unused.

A lot of Ian’s winter wardrobe had gone unused, until this week. Last Saturday it was a balmy 65 degrees. Sunday, the temperature dropped to 20. Yesterday, it was…lower than that.

I’ve never been able to grasp the concept of layers. I understand why people dress in layers. I’ve just been too lazy to do it myself. I’m only in the cold while I’m running from home to car door to work to car door to home. I can deal with a little cold. Ian can’t run.

Kelly and I have different ideas about dressing our son. I always think “he’ll be fine”, while she knows that, though he’ll eventually thaw, climatizing Ian to subarctic climates is a developmental step we can skip. Consequently, it takes me a lot longer to get Ian ready in the mornings. I’m constantly second-guessing myself, knowing while I dress him that his mother is going to do it the right way, later, when I’m not looking.

Ian now spends his days ensconced in fleece. He wears a jacket over a sweatshirt with pants over a long-sleeved onesie over pants over a onesie. With two pairs of socks. (The second pair of socks is the only thing keeping his shoes on.) The kid can barely move. When we put Ian in his carseat, he can’t move at all. He sits there staring at me and wiggling his fingers. I don’t think he has enough room to whine. Giving him toys at this point is a kind of cruel joke.

The first day of his winterization, Ian was cranky. We weren’t surprised. He’s been a little sick lately, and he’s sprouting teeth all over the place. Usually I can find something to distract him for a while. He has plenty of loud, shiny new Christmas toys; loud, colorful baby videos; and loud, strange parents. Chewing on daddy’s fingers is no longer an option.

He wouldn’t crack a smile. We shrugged our shoulders, and started getting him ready for his nightly Daddy Bath (Mommy Baths are on weekends). At this point, I hadn’t yet seen Kelly’s dressing technique. I started taking off Ian’s clothes, and they just kept coming. His clothes were a magician’s scarf; an endless tangle of bits of clothing, until all that’s left is David Copperfield in his underwear.

With each layer of clothing gone, Ian slowly changed. His sweatshirt was off, and he stretched his arms. The pants, and he could finally reach his toes. The long-sleeved onesie, and he started to twist in my hands. With the last layer, the final, flimsy onsie between Ian and freedom, he was giggling and squirming and flailing his arms like a windmill. His legs were pumping, trying to catapult him from my lap into a world of naked babies and warm baths. A land where mommies and their well-intentioned, seven-layer love are nowhere in sight.

Someday he’ll learn that it’s hard to catapult yourself anywhere if your legs are frozen to daddy’s bare arms.

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