There is something you should know if you don't know it already. I do not want children. It's the whole process of being pregnant (I watched too many sci-fi movies about Alien invasion and intergration), never mind the actual birth. Then it's pretty much losing your freedom, though you seem to get a lot in return, and the whole raising the child in a not so friendly environment. I do have my ideas about how to raise a child but I can't influence everyone around me from the paperboy to the wild man on the street preaching about the apocalypse so that's all too challenging for me. Maybe I don't even like children all that much. But then there's a first for everything. One of my best friends, someone who does share my views, had a baby. I visited her a few weeks after her live attendance of a horror movie (read: giving birth) and instantly had a fragile baby in my arms. I must have looked horrified and to be honest, I was a little. Little Alex was so fragile, so small, pooping a lot. I had no idea what to do with it. But somehow, I loved getting pictures of him, loved her stories (not the ones about not being able to go everywhere she likes so easily, though baby Alex has already been to Belgium and Norway and attended a barbecue at a Norwegian river in October) and I was really looking forward to seeing him again as my friend would come to Amsterdam to visit me.
She lives in a smaller town near Rotterdam and took the train. As the trains from her hometown didn't go this weekend due to railwork she had to rely on her husband taking her to another train station and as he had somewhere to go himself that day it was a bit early. Never mind the 08:15 (on Sunday!) train not going either. She decided to take the next train to the Hague, trying to get a train to Amsterdam there. While we were texting I checked the website of our national trainoperator whether there was more railworks. A whole dozen of them! And naturally another one on the track she had to take. "Whatever you do, don't go via Haarlem!" I texted. Because having a buggy in the train being alone seemed hard enough in itself, I didn't want her to get on busses either. In the end she hopped off halfway to get on the train to Amsterdam (I'm still impressed she managed) and we met at the central station.
I had offered earlier that I would like to get behind the buggy, all in the eye of revenge. Trying to to be run over by buggies is not a sport, it's survival. In my eyes, mothers with buggies are simply using their buggy to shamelessly marche their way through town or wherever they are. Really annoying. So, now it's my turn! And my friend let me because she always felt the same about that.
I got the full baby experience. I spent the entire day behind the buggy and it was great. I never walked through the Kalverstraat with such ease as this Sunday. I wasn't even going through town with my zero tolerance policy, I just walked and it's never been that easy. People do look differently at you with a buggy and are actually being nice to you. I know I might have been lucky but it's really a whole different experience. And my friend? She enjoyed walking around freely.
Our first challenge was Burger King. Don't expect anything else open in a Sunday morning in Amsterdam. We wanted a coffee and a draft free place to feed Alex. We carried the buggy upstairs and found a nice place. I instantly had baby Alex on my lap. The little man had grown quite a bit these 4 months and I actually dared to hold him and move at the same time. We caught up, talked and talked, he got a fresh diaper (that's actually the only thing I didn't do during this baby experience), I helped him getting into his jacket again and off we went, carrying the buggy down and into town. Getting in and out the shops. And I was amazed about just how easy that was. Alex didn't mind the bumpy roads, in fact he loved it. Whenever we didn't walk he opened his eyes as if he were to say 'hey come on and keep walking, I like that!'. Getting into the stores was a little challenging, some had a high entrance, but still it went well. People actually held the doors open for me. Wow! Of course he went into a record store where I told him he would be in these stores a whole lot in his life (he's going to be a rocker, of course) and getting into that small entrance wasn't as impossible I believed it was. There's something clever about how these buggies are wheeled. We also went into H&M to get the little man some clothes and I took a teddy polar bear off the shelf and held in in front of him, playing with it and buying it for him. Apparently it's his favourite toy right now. I also fed him at a restaurant later on and though he was quite heavy it was an experience.
It was time for her and him to go so I carried him to the rail station. Carried because he was getting a little moody at that time and started to cry a little. It's true, if the baby crying is yours it's way less annoying, in fact, I didn't think it was annoying at all and managed to make him stop a few times as well, which also included carrying him on my arms. With the elevator we went to her train and had to rush even, I helped her carrying the buggy inside and had time to say goodbye and off they went. Back home where she had to take a substitute rail bus which denied her because of the buggy (wtf man). And as I was walking to my tram I actually missed the little man. The buggy, the smile on his face. Damn.
Did this make me change my mind about having a child of my own? Hell no. It still involves something growing inside of me, it still involves birth and it still involves losing a piece of your freedom. My friend and I talked about this and it was something she found hard as well but the cliché was true, the smile of her baby made it worth it or at least easier. She would do everything for her baby, more for him as for her husband. And of course a 4 month old is a whole different child than a 2-year-old who is learning to walk and run and being naughty. But I did get a better insight on what it's like to have a baby, how it does limit you but also how rewarding that little smile is and that you really do not break a child in two when you move. The purpose of her visit was my birthday (don't worry, it's only next month) and one of her gifts was a Rock Bible. I think I want to be that child's cool aunty. Let's see what he thinks about it when he grows older but so far I think he likes me. And for someone who thinks she just can't handle and deal with children, that's quite something.
The only thing I worry about is if I have removed the cap of my camera while taking his picture or left it stupidly on.