“I like the bus” says Miss Nearly-Three as we walk to the bus stop. “You don't have to click me in on the bus”.
And I agree with her. The bus is great. As it turns up around the corner Miss Nearly-Three starts waving. And then she greets the bus driver with a cheerful “Hello”, before racing along to find just the seat for her.
A few hours later we set off to take the bus home. Miss Nearly-Three is tired and whiny, and begging for a breastfeed. It's time to whip out the mei tai from where it lives at the bottom of my bag. With the promise of a feed, Miss Nearly-Three lets me tie her onto my front (this is the way we both prefer it, I find my back and hips hurt when I carry her on my back). I get her settled and feeding (discretely, although that isn't actually that relevant to either of us, anymore), and feel her whole little body relax, as I once more set off to the bus stop. I kiss the top of her head, and think how lucky I am to have her.
And she'll probably fall asleep as soon as the bus is moving, which is fantastic now she rarely sleeps in the afternoon (but still needs it). She'll sleep and we'll both get a rest.
I don't wear her as much now that she is older. But there are times when it is useful. She doesn't have the strength yet to walk as far as we do. And she gets tired when we've been out all morning. That's when it is so practical to get the mei tai and get her settled. We enjoy going for walks. A while back we walked up Mount Kaukau, and Miss Nearly-Three walked all the way up herself. Then she slept on Daddy's back all the way down! And there are times, very occasionally, when she is miserable, tired, sad, clingy. That's when the mei tai comes into its right at home.
And I remember, as I watch my baby sleep, her little head resting heavily on my chest, a time, not so long ago, when she was in the mei tai much more. She had her day-time sleeps in there, at home or about, at other people's houses, on trains, buses and aeroplanes (though I preferred the Ergo on the plane). I walk a lot, and use public transport, so she was always there with me. Where I could see her, talk to her, sign to her, and see everything she saw. Sweet memories now. But also the odd long night with an inconsolable baby, and walking around in the dark with her in the mei tai until she calmed, fell asleep and we could get her back to bed. Other nights at parties, where my little girl had a blast until she got tired, and I got her settled in the mei tai. And we could enjoy the rest of the evening, with her sleeping peacefully on my chest. Not so long ago. A year ago or less.
I step off the bus, one hand on Miss Nearly-Three's head, and one on her back, and set off, up the road and up the 200 steps, and I am grateful I'm no longer dependent on the push-chair, as in my little one's early months. In a few minutes we'll be home, and Miss Nearly-Three will be rested and ready to raid the garden, have a smoothie and turn a dining chair into a climbing frame!