Friday, March 03, 2006

The week in transit

I've been responsible for much of the dropping and collecting of the child at and from daycare recently. There have been developments in matters related to public transportation, general mobility of said child, and of course my reading habits.

1. Helena doesn't much like crowded subways. Who does? During rush-hour somebody usually offers us a seat, but not always. I've tried a few times to get her to stand on her own, but in the time it took to crouch to let her down easy I realized just how unpleasant the ride would be for one who's only just over 3 feet tall. So I usually balance her on my hip. Earlier this week, I warned her I'd be putting her down for a minute when we pulled into the next station, so I could readjust my stance. And very bravely, and I suspect even in sympathy for the plight of the heavy load I was carrying (being said child), she told me she wanted to try to stand. And stand she did, holding onto the pole and lurching in fun with the train's momentum, the rest of the way and every metro trip since, even when seating was available.

2. Helena walked of the train onto the platform all by herself. "J'ai pas tombé dans le trou!"

3. Helena doesn't much like escalators. (Some of her classmates are pros at escalators; Helena opts for regular stairs.) She tried once, about a year ago, to step onto one, but she turned back at me in tears. So when regular stairs are not an option, I balance her on my hip. This week, she wanted to try. She did not turn back, but after we stood there for about 5 minutes, Helena mesmerized by the patterns of moving lines, I had to lift her on. But she rode up (and later down) on her own 2 feet, hand on handrail, and stepped off without hesitation.

4. Helena on hearing the subway approach, stretches up her arms for me to lift her. After a few runs this week, she held my hand till the doors opened; we stepped on to the train together. "J'ai pas tombé dans le trou!"

5. I had a fit of panic when, returning home alone, I finished reading the book I'd been carrying around in my bag, with 3 stops (of a 5-stop trip) still to go. Once home I wasted hours (!) looking for unread books the right size for my next metro journey, tucking them into my bag to check for fit. Luckily, I found a couple Penguin 60s (Virginia Woolf, Killing the Angel in the House: Seven Essays, and Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell). I finally settled on a Dover Thrift Edition (Dostoyevky, The Gambler), greatly relieved that I'll have metro reading for the next while. Sure I like hardcovers, finely textured paper, and gloriously illustrated covers as much as the next reader, but really, there's a lot to be said for pocket-sized (and cheap) paperbacks when you're just trying to make the commute go by a little faster.

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