Litopia, a fantastic site for unpublished and published writers looking for feedback and support, was seeking blog posts on the theme of holidays and I just found myself writing about this. Would love to hear your own experiences...
Four adults. Check! Nine litres of water, eight nappies, three different factor suncreams and a ten month old. Check! Our descent down the Grand Canyon had begun.
Our baby bounced happily at my husband’s shoulders in her rucksack – not just any old rucksack, you understand, “Made in Canada,” my husband boasted. “They know how to make them there.”
We were very proud. So advanced was this baby rucksack that we could adjust it to fit vertically challenged me and vertically gifted hubbie. The straps didn’t rub and the back panel repelled the sweat. And this was when materials didn’t wick away perspiration. This was 1999 when the only repellents we’d heard of were bad breath and hairy nostrils.
It was hot.
It was OK to take a ten month down the Grand Canyon, we’d assured ourselves, the key was simply to make sure that she was constantly hydrated. Nine litres of water should cover it; perhaps there’d even be a drop or too left over for the rest of us. My husband did question the eight nappies but I reminded him how we found out that the dypers we’d been buying in America were the same in name only to our trusted British brand of nappies - when faced with a wee- infused hired car seat a mere coo and a cuddle after a previous change.
Did I mention it was hot? Stifling, to be precise. My otherwise wonderfully laid-back husband has been known to get a little grumpy in extreme heat and he looked slightly uncomfortable.
“I can carry the rucksack,” I insisted, to which the other three chorused that I wasn’t allowed on account of being pregnant.
“Let me take her,” said Paul.
I should point out here that our friend, Paul, is now a doting father of two beautifully brought up girls and has done his fair share of changing nappies, wiping noses and feeding. At the time, however, he had a phobia: babies’ muck. It was a proper phobia; almost putting him off having children. He could do holding, cuddling and playing but he couldn’t do dirty faces or, God forbid, smelly bottoms.
However, when our baby was rested, fed and nappy unnecessarily changed, he happily threw her and her state of the art rucksack onto his back.
We were a quarter of a way in. It was getting hotter. The sun was an elongated star right up above us, the air was dry and the orange dust of the path was hitting the back of our mouths.
We took another water break. Our first born was happily flicking her squeaky smurf on a rope back and forth, Sally and I were marvelling, hubbie was enthusing about the experience despite it being 20 degrees hotter than his sensitive body would generally choose.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” I asked Paul.
“No problem,” he answered, agreeing that the rucksack was truly a work of engineering genius; he could hardly tell he’d got it on.
“You’re so hot though,” I persisted. “There’s sweat dripping down the back of your legs.” Paul claimed it was a mystery. He wasn’t generally a sweaty boy, even playing football, it didn’t spray off him as it did now. We concluded that the body must cope differently when you descend in heat rather than when you ascend a mountain and the air gets cooler.
We set off for the next stop where, it had been decreed, hubbie would take over responsibility for our baby again.
We didn’t get that far.
“Mate, your shorts are absolutely drenched. We’ll swap at the nearest opportunity,” hubbie ordered. We found a secluded area just to the side of the path and huddled together. It wasn’t a designated stop, more a shelf in the orange dust.
“Oh that’s gross,” Sally said, as Paul removed the rucksack to reveal a yellow edged stain covering his pale t-shirt and sand coloured shorts.
“Mate, you stink!” My husband likes to say it as it is.
“It’s not his fault.” I felt guilty.
I think that was the point when hubbie and I looked at each other and tried unsuccessfully to stifle great guffaws of laughter. Paul, with his aversion to all baby bodily fluids, hadn’t sweated at all, not even a bead. Our baby had simply excreted nine litres of baby wee all down his back, seemingly bi-passing any nappy-type protection en route.
Paul shivered a little, lifted the offending shirt away from his back and pushed out his stomach to keep the offensive material away from the concave this created. We all rushed to his assistance, wiping all visible skin with baby wipes.
“You know,” he said to hubbie, “I will let you carry her now.”