For those of you who live on the East Coast, you already know that Interstate 95 is chalk full of traffic jams due to idiots who wreck their cars and SUV’s going at least 25 mph over the posted speed limits. However, after more than 40 years of driving on that god-cursed stretch of road between New York and DC, today was the worst trip ever and poor Maddie was front and center for the entire 9-hour ordeal.
That’s right, 9 hours to go a little over 200 miles and every suicide jockey in a 400 miles radius was looking for a prom date to the hereafter.
It’s a very bad feeling when you have a 4-month-old baby in the car and every inadequate loser is zipping by at speeds of up to 100 mph on rain-slicked roads. Maddie and her parents got snagged in at least 4 dizzying traffic jams in three different states due to the exploits of these expert drivers with amazing insecurity issues.
It is hard to fathom how Maddie endured hour after hour with Zen-like patience as her parents complained bitterly about the nightmare that would not end. We had to stop and feed her twice, but she was such a good girl and helped her mom and dad keep their wits about them.
Maddie was sound asleep when got off the highway nine hours later. We were less than a mile from her grandparents house when Maddie was jarred awake by the sound of a terrible impact. Her father had just tried to straddle a dead deer on a curve, and the undercarriage of the car made full contact with the carcass.
Even after being woken up by this spectacular impact, Maddie took the incident in stride and didn’t even cry. I don’t know how she keeps her cool like that, but there is a lesson to be learned here.Maddie was obviously thinking that despite the exhaustive journey and mashing the dead dear underneath the car, it’s important to be thankful that everyone arrived safely. She also couldn’t have been happier that once again, it was time to eat!
Maddie made the trip to Western Jersey today to celebrate her grandmother’s birthday. The plan was to feed Maddie once we got to the restaurant, but she had a hunger initiated temper tantrum at home a good hour before feeding time.
I pumped her full of mother’s milk that induced a full-bore food coma and hit the highway. An hour later, the baby was still zonked out when we walked into a very noisy Panera restaurant. The raucous lunchtime crowd didn’t phase Maddie a bit as she gently slept in her chair.
An hour later we arrived at her grandparents house and still the baby kept sleeping!
Finally I decided if nothing else, I had to at least swap out her diaper. Maddie came to with a happy grin on her face, ready to cast her spell of charm over her grandparents. Grandma fed the baby and the entire scene was nothing short of butterscotch and ponies.
All we had to do now was drive home. We hadn’t made it very far when Maddie started rocking and rolling.
(Warning, warning we are under attack! This is not a drill!!)
There was a Starbucks up at the next exit – seemingly the perfect place to chill Maddie out and grab some caffeine.
Maddie read my mind and knew she had to think fast. The baby must have slowed her heart rate like a Ninja so that PaPa would have no idea that he was walking right into a trap. We made it to Starbucks and Maddie smiled sweetly as I plucked her out of the backseat. But just as we crossed the threshold into the store – Maddie let go with a tortured cry of anguish that shook the building in it very foundation.
“What is it sweetheart?” I pleaded. This time she screamed even louder and suddenly, we were the center of attention at the coffee house – the main attraction if you will. I implored Maddie to take it easy – and for a moment it looked like she was ready to settle down. I quickly ordered a drink when the Madster lashed out again. This Starbucks now reminded me of the restaurant robbery scene in the movie Pulp Fiction – everyone stared at the baby – dreading what might come next.
The tisk-tisk looks were already floating towards our direction and it was time to get out of dodge. Then I heard a little girl ask her Mom, “Is that really her father?” Whoops, there goes my parent of the year nomination!
I’m not sure what subtle cues I had missed, but the situation was degrading quickly and there was still the little matter of the drive home.
I wrestled my little tigress back into the car and got back on the highway praying for to the traffic gods for little good luck. The motion of the car gently rocked the baby to sleep as my pulse rate slowly slipped out of the red. We were only about six miles short of home sweet home when we ran into the back breaker. Every approach into the city was jammed. It took less than 30 seconds for Maddie to reach the same conclusion.
PAYBACK TIME – Maddie gave PaPa both barrels as we inched along in the traffic and it was then that I realized that my baby has a bright future as an interrogator for the CIA. There’s not a criminal or terrorist alive who would be able to withstand ten minutes of that Maddie-flavored chaos without giving up the goods and divulging everything she needed to know.
Maddie and her father had business across the Hudson River in the city that always reeks – the rotten apple known as New York City. A place where common sense is unheard of and manners have long since been forgotten.
This would be Maddie’s first trip into the city and first experience through the glorious Lincoln Tunnel. Even at 1030 in the morning – it was obvious that the brain surgeons would be battling for pole position even if their top speed was only about 12mph. Smart!
Maddie and PaPa finally emerged from the tube amid the blaring horns and angry drivers. We turned onto 40th only to watch some cop tearing down the road going the wrong way in reverse – even the cops are crazy in Nuevo York. Maddie was showing a great deal of patience – but I got the feeling she could sense the anger in the air.
Our plan was to cut across town past Bryant Park – but of course – that prominent cross street was shut down for some magical reason – so we headed up 6th Avenue. This when I heard on the radio that the New York City police chief had been bragging that his counter terrorism unit could shoot down a jet liner (Remind me not to fly out of JFK ever again)
Anyway – we finally made our way to Park Avenue when we got pinned behind two cab drivers fighting with each other while blocking not only the right lane, but the center lane as well.
Meanwhile, Maddie was starting to lose it and our mission to deliver her Mom’s pumping equipment was starting to unravel. We finally made our delivery, but all the westbound cross streets were jammed. However, this gave me the vital time needed to calm Maddie and escape from New York.
I hauled Maddie down to our secret Lincoln Tunnel entrance and finally got us out of Comedy Central – but not before a friendly truck driver flipped us off for not letting him cut us off.
Just like Jay-Z says in his silly little song: “Concrete jungle that nightmares are made of!”
Being born in New Jersey, Maddie thought that of all things she would have to worry about – earthquakes and hurricane landfalls were pretty far down the list. But much to her dismay, both of those anxieties are climbing up the list at a breakneck pace.
Stay Home PaPa is stressing out the family with his evacuation plans and Maddie is not taking it well. She went on the warpath for the better part of the evening. Her only peace came when once again, the only way to soothe her was by going outside.
It was a little gusty outside and that’s just how the baby likes it. We tromped around for the better part of 40 minutes much to Mad Maddie’s delight – but once we came back inside, the dark side reared its ugly head.
Forget about Irene, Hurricane Maddie released the full scope of her fury. Those tiny, but powerful lungs generated winds in excess of 95 knots – tearing trees asunder, overturning mobile homes and giving her dad the beginnings of an aneurysm.
Like the Big Bad Wolf – she huffed and puffed until the house was barely standing. If we board up the windows, it’s hard to tell whether it will be to keep us safe from the storm or the outside world from Maddie’s wraith.
Either way – what’s been a long week is shaping up to be an even longer weekend.
The set up was perfect.
We recreated every detail down to the time of day, temperature, even clothing.
Our drive down to Virginia a week earlier had been a smashing success – Maddie slept the whole way and we were in awe of our brilliance.
Enter the Klumps – despite our elaborate planning and meticulous attention to detail – Maddie proved that what works one time, is no guarantee for success during the next go around.
Our seamless drive down to Virginia was the polar opposite of last night’s funny little trip home.
The little lioness was wild right of the box. As we gently placed her in the car seat – “The child done lost her mind!” The screaming started and we realized that we might be in for a rocky trip. We went through the checklist – Maddie was in good shape, but man, she was cantankerous! The little lungs that initially emitted a tropical depression, were revving up to hurricane speed. We made it a little less than 20 minutes when we pulled over see if we could calm the storm. 45 minutes later, the little girl was finally ready for sleep.
The next 140 miles were smooth as silk, it was the magical carpet ride we had all dreamed about – until we ran head long into the diabolical maze of NIGHT CONSTRUCTION!! Oh yes, I-95 went down to one lane ONLY 2 different times during a 6-mile span in the useless state of Delaware!
Somehow Maddie slept her way through it – but it was the construction project on the wild and wonderful New Jersey Turnpike that proved to be our undoing. Mad Maddie unleashed the fury and we were stuck in the toxic New Jersey soup.
Finally we made our way to a rest stop so Maddie could pick up some Mom’s milk – but by that time – the weary trio just wanted it to be over.
Less than an hour later – Mom and baby were safely tucked away in bed – and Stay Home PaPa was left to ponder where it all went wrong.
The fact that my wife and I are completely ready for bed each evening by 8pm each is a pretty stern indicator of how life has changed a bit since the arrival of sweet baby Madeleine less than two weeks ago.
Sleep for all three of us has become an intricate game of cat and mouse.
During a recent car trip, Maddie was sound asleep with about 60 miles yet to drive. But Daddy was losing his edge and we had to make a high-risk stop to refuel the batteries. High risk because we risked incurring the wraith of the one they call Mad Maddie!
We glided to a gentle stop while I did a commando roll out of the vehicle applying just enough pressure to shut the door without any offending noise or vibration. I silently fled the vehicle in search of some caffeine.
I was gone no more than 90 seconds when I noticed my wife frantically signaling me from the passenger seat. It instantly dawned on me that the Phoenix must be stirring from her slumber – and our DEFCON Threat level had just been elevated to PANIC! The seismic readings were registering off the chart and my mini Mt. Vesuvius was ripe for an eruption!
Go Go Go – All hands on deck! This is not a drill. I scrambled towards my post, silently praying that all was not lost. I got to the driver’s side door initiating Silent Delta opening procedures while using Ninja breathing techniques to slow my heart rate.
As the door opened, I could sense the creature’s restlessness – I tried to strengthen my resolve, “Steady man, she’s not a lick over seven pounds!” But who was I trying to fool; those tiny lungs could rupture eardrums and shatter windows! The Banshee was nearly awake.
My wife silently implored me to get the vehicle in motion – as she dared a glance into car seat in the back. I slipped the car into reverse and the briefest of shockwaves hit – Maddie was coming to and she did not sound pleased!
I fumbled with the gears and got the car into drive – we didn’t have a prayer! We made it to the ramp heading for I-95 – hitting each gear seamlessly and praying for a miracle. My wife and I cringed as our daughter emitted a little grunt and cough – here we go – All hands, Shields Up, Brace for impact!!
I eased off at 60 mph and locked in the cruise control. Silence radiated from the back seat like a beacon of hope and promise.
A few miles down the road – we realized that we had dodged the bullet. With the crisis averted – Gina and I smirked at each other, basking in the satisfaction of the great escape. However, we also knew that although Maddie was asleep – she was plotting her next strike and next time we would not be so lucky!