Monday, June 11, 2012

Packing Kids Around

Today was Monday, I should have been in school except that we had a sports meet on Saturday so make-up day off. Being that was the case, I got to do something I had wanted to do for a bit, namely take Makoto to nursery school.

Makoto changed schools in April (The start of the Japanese school year) to one in our neck of the woods, which saves us a lot on gas (5 minutes driving vs a half an hour). The thing is, drop off time for the school is 8:30, my first period class starts at 8:35 in the next city over so I'm never able to drop my son off at school. However, today was a regular school day for Makoto, and a day off for Daddy.

With that in mind, and it being a beautiful day in June, I decided to give my son a treat and walk him down and give Beloved a break and pack Hikaru down with me.

Now, we've gone through 4 different kid carriers (5 if you count the stroller that neither son liked or has really used). Two of them are Japanese made, two are American (Well, they were bought in the US). The Japanese ones are fairly good, I would guess. See, the problem is that one is actually the carrier that Beloved used when she was a baby. It's a traditional Japanese style back sling, meant to tie around a woman. It used to be that this was how women carried around their infants. And I admit, while lacking just about all the features a modern carrier comes with, the damn thing seemed to work fine for both Makoto and Hikaru when they were small. Beloved's mother would, when visiting, just very quickly sling them on her back and take off with nary a thought. Since it was an open sling, they rested directly against her back and they seemed to like it.

Makoto, the only way to be on Mommy's back
The other Japanese carrier was one we bought after Makoto was born. A three in one (It's supposed to be a sling/front/back carrier (We've only used the back) and this is the one Beloved swears by, or at, depending. Warm, snugly, easy to stow and haul with us, it, like it's older cousin, isn't exactly bad...

It's just that they were made for skinny Japanese women. I can't even buckle the second one (Partly due to fat, partly just have too broad of shoulders).  The few times I did use that carrier, well, pain. Lots of it as I had to literally hold it to keep Makoto on my back. He didn't really enjoy it either.

Now when Makoto was born my mother decided to be nice (Since she didn't know of Japan's long history of wearing babies as a fashion item) and sent us a front Snugli. Now this one was big enough to work well with an overly large American... As long as you didn't want to actually do anything with your hands or wear your kid for a long time.

Which was kind of a problem since at the time I had started taking Makoto for walks around the town to give Beloved a break. The problem with the front loader as I quickly found out is that there is NO back support on that bloody thing and after about 15 minutes of wearing it, it started to hurt, a lot.

Even worse, with Makoto facing out, there was also no way to check on him and no way to actually do anything but walk as getting close enough to use my hands on something meant that Makoto was close enough to use HIS.

Something else was needed. Something with support, safety, and the ability to take it where it hurt because I like to hike and by God am I gonna drag my sons out with me.

Enter a trip to REI when we went back to the States for a visit with Makoto and Kelty Kids.

We managed to get our hands on a FC 3 child carrier. It's BIG. It's meant to go backpacking with (In fact, it's size is its only drawback, I've hoofed that thing literally around Japan and when not in use, it does take up a lot of space). That said, it's great. Wonderful back support, sun shades and rain covers. Enough space for extra clothing, diapers, lunches, whatnot (Daddy IS a pack mule after all), and best of all...

1 Kid + 1 Pack = sleep

I have gone around with one son or the other sound sleep on my back, which I can check with the built in mirror. It never fails, nor does the appearance of the pack fail to excite the kid who is getting carried. Makoto as a toddler (He rode in it up to age 3 and a half) would jump for joy when he saw it and Hikaru is the same.

The best reactions however have not been from my sons whom I get to carry around comfortably, but from the Japanese around me who have never seen a pack like this. I have been asked by random people just where they could get something like that as well, how comfortable is it, etc.

And thus it proved today, walking into the school with Makoto holding my hand and Hikaru ridding on my back. After a few exchanges about names, and pleased to meet yous and the like, I left Makoto at the school and started to head back up the hill to home just to hear a whispered "Did you see that pack? That's so cool. Where did he get it?" 

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