Today was graduation day for the 2012 class of my wife’s dental school. One of the graduating seniors and his girlfriend had given Arya a pretty dress and we planned on taking baby to graduation to thank them and see some of our other friends.
Arya really enjoyed getting dressed up to go out. In addition to her pretty blue dress, our baby wore a cute white headband with red bow and matching white socks. Anticipating a pleasant afternoon with plenty of extra time, I packed two books and snacks for Mommy and Daddy with the mountain of baby stuff in the stroller.
The official start time for the “all-University” ceremony was 9AM. Since my wife and I would have both been bored and since we have our baby as a convenient excuse, we planned to get there around 1PM in time to catch the end of the specific ceremony for the dental school and greet everyone during the late luncheon. Google Maps told us that our trip would take 48 minutes, so we left the house at 11:30AM to leave lots of extra time for unexpected baby issues. As we left we congratulated ourselves on being organized and responsible new parents by leaving early.
After baby’s first subway ride left us drained and 30 minutes behind the optimal schedule — though still leaving 60 minutes of cushion — we decided to walk the one mile from the Davis Red Line Station to the Tufts main campus in Medford.
Mommy, Daddy, and Arya enjoy walking as it allows us to combine exercise, family time, and what we describe as the serendipity of life. Walking also lets the adults relax and allows baby to look around the neighborhood.
With the temperature reaching the low 80s in the sun, we took pains to protect her from the heat. We had two umbrellas (despite 0% chance of rain) to block direct light, a light blanket to cover the stroller to block angled light, and a water bottle plus wipe clothes to cool her skin.
Despite our efforts Arya still cried four times during our mile walk. One time was for a diaper change which only took a few minutes. Three times were for milk. Our daughter insisted on stopping to drink milk. We both assumed that she was thirsty from the heat since it is the first time she has been outdoors in over 80 degree weather.
We had packed 10 ounces of milk with an icepack in a carrying bag and my wife could nurse if necessary so there was little danger of running out of milk. But stopping to feed Arya took at least 20 minutes every time.
First we had to find a reasonable place to stop with shade, large sidewalk, and wall or bench for us to sit. Next we had to feed her. Then we had to take her out of the stroller to burp her. Finally we had to place her back in the stroller and replace our sun coverings.
We took turns caring for our daughter while the other person looked around for interesting things to photograph. The neighborhood near the Tufts campus in Medford has a surprising number of home gardens, flowers, and interesting architecture.
My wife and I like taking pictures and spending time as a family. In addition, neither of us minded taking the effort to make our baby happy during what should have otherwise been a short walk. Unfortunately time was a different concern.
We had left 90 minutes “early”. We lost 30 minutes during our T adventure. Stopping four times on the way to the campus cost us another 70 minutes.
So we arrived at the main entrance to the Tufts campus 10 minutes late despite leaving one and one-half hours early. The campus had decorated commencement banners scattered on street lights, but no visible signage directing visitors. I decided to ask a friendly looking campus security guard for directions.
He was very nice and directed us to the Cousens Gym for the Dental School ceremony. The Cousens Gym was on the opposite side of campus, so we walked uphill another 0.6 miles to get to the gym. We arrived at the gym a little sweaty and a lot tired.
The campus security guard just inside told us — with empathy in his voice — that we were in the wrong place. The Dental school graduation was in a completely different part of campus another half mile away.
We followed the second guard’s directions to Carmichael Hall only to be impeded half-way there by a long set of steep stairs leading from the sidewalk to the main level of the academic campus. I briefly debated the dumber and more exhausting, yet faster and more straight-forward option of carrying the stroller up the hundred stairs. My wife, using a specific tone she reserves for talking me out of doing stupid things, convinced me to find another way up.
We wandered the outskirts of campus for another twenty minutes until finding a random group of strangers who eventually directed us up a parking garage elevator. Seven floors later we arrived at the main campus level only a quarter mile from our final destination.
As soon as we got outside of the parking garage building, Arya cried for her fourth feeding of the journey. Just at the time we started feeding her, we ran into one of the graduating seniors who recognized and greeted my wife. He and his family were leaving.
We had not only missed the all-campus ceremony and the Dental ceremony, we had also missed the luncheon and the family greeting time. Our “48 minute” trip had, by this time, taken more than three hours. Google Maps needs an option for “transit time with baby”.
Concerned we might arrive at the Dental School area to find an empty courtyard, we decided to quickly take some picture in front of a random ceremony with random graduates. Congratulations to whoever those people are in our pictures for whatever degree they received.
Thankfully we finally arrived at the Carmichael Hall courtyard in time to greet and take pictures with a few stragglers.
Taking baby to graduation was a long ordeal, but I learned two valuable lessons. I will be more hesitant to commit to events where I will be bringing baby and it is impossible for us to leave too early when we are taking our baby along.