The buggy is dying.
This isn't good - I need it to last at least another six months. Marie could conceivably walk everywhere already but it's slow going at times. I don't want to be dawdling about in the rain and sleet and cold. After the winter, she'll better able to maintain a reasonable speed and it won't matter as much anyway. The buggy can be put out to pasture then.
I'm kind of looking forward to it. It will be nice to have more space in the hall again and to be able to get on buses easily but there will be a sense of loss as well. Where am I going to put my shopping? I'll have to go get groceries twice as often or start taking a rucksack with me to Tesco.
Actually, I should buy the kids rucksacks and take them with me to Tesco.
I guess that problem's solved but I'll still miss the buggy. It's seen many, many miles of active service as a toddler-carrier and also doubled as a containment unit for unruly children, a bed on wheels and a handy shield to park between myself and people I'm intimidated by. It's a great place for stowing wipes, clean clothes, rainwear and snacks. When I venture forth without it, I feel exposed and under-equipped.
We've had a number of wheeled transport devices over the years: a pram, three single buggies, a double buggy and a buggy board. (That's not taking into account bikes, trikes, scooters, office chairs and storage tubs, but these are more for fun than serious means of getting from A to B. That said, Fraser is convinced that spinning round really fast on an office chair is a good way to travel backwards in time. I'm sceptical. In practice, he seems only able to get as far back as a time before he felt entirely well.)
Each device has had its uses but it's the single buggies which have taken the real punishment. The first got slightly mangled by a car boot and the frame broke when I tried to bend it back. The second got twisted out of shape by over-use of the buggy board when transporting heavy boys. There was no longer any way to get all four wheels to touch the ground at the same time and it had to be retired. Our third buggy, though, has survived the buggy board, leaking nappies, cobbled streets, rutted fields, steps, snow, constant use and being regularly loaded with a child and a fridgeful of shopping.
True, most of these things immediately invalidated the warranty but, then again, the instructions claimed that so did going up and down kerbs. The warranty was effectively out the window the moment we crossed the entrance to a little carpark that's just along the road. Bearing that in mind, we've felt free to pile the underseat storage with six pint containers of milk, loop a shopping bag over each handle and then try to use speed bumps as launch ramps with a buggy board and toddler on the back.
It's still going. I suppose it hasn't had to put up with some of the things I've seen other people do. I've seen adults sitting in buggies, older children hitching a ride by hanging off the back and at least one buggy being used to transport a TV. Our buggy hasn't been abused quite that badly but it is seeming a little past it - its wheels are pitted and worn, it struggles to turn, its raincover is in tatters. One of the back wheels is even in danger of coming off. One day, I'm going to take a sharp turn in the electronics department of John Lewis, the wheel's going to get left behind and Marie and I are going to spin off into a display of giant tellies. As we crawl to safety, the buggy will explode, showering us in breadstick crumbs and remote controls. It will be a sad end to a faithful servant (and some expensive TVs). I should really dispose of it before then.
I just can't do it quite yet.
It's like a dog - an old, tired dog that only has three legs and smells bad, admittedly, but it seems callous not to give it a proper send off. I wanted to catapult it, flaming, off the top of Edinburgh Castle and watch it blow up at the culmination of the Hogmanay fireworks but the council weren't up for that. So now I'm considering something akin to a viking longboat ceremony. I'm going to pile it high with old baby clothes, set it alight, float it gently out to sea and watch it drift serenely off into the night. If I can get a couple of hundred other people to join in, that could be quite beautiful.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. There's life in the old dog yet. I'm going to give it a wash, spray its wheels with WD40, tighten any loose screws, tickle it behind the ears and then let it gambol around out the back door for a little while.
Then I'm going to load it up with six bags of books to take to the charity shop, perch Marie on top, jump on the mudguards and try to beat my downhill time to the bottom of the street.
If I use enough oil, I might even be able to leave a trail of fire behind me...
Yours in a woman's world,