Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Why I'm a Great Mother

The day before our Christmas trip to Mexico, I hired a sitter so I could do all of the last minute things needed for travel outside the country with a baby.

So naturally, I ended up wandering the aisles of my favorite thrift store, McDonald's ice tea in hand, crossing nothing off my list.

I am a registered germaphobe, so it's more than a little surprising that I'd choose to go to this particular place in the heart of cold season, busy and crowded as it was, and full of used stuff.

More remarkable, still, was that I let my guard down and glanced over into the toy aisle, an aisle that had been off-limits in my 10+ years of thrifting. Jack and Margaret knew not to put a single toe in that aisle, with its plastic items strewn about, likely covered with baby slobber, e-coli, and boogers. Sure, the loudspeaker periodically chastens parents to keep their kids with them at all times, but no one enforces it, and the toy aisle often serves as the perfect place to dump littles off while mom shops a few aisles over.

And on this cold December day, the aisle was hopping and hacking-- full of kids who were likely too sick to go to school the last day before vacation.

But it was in that petri dish of a toy aisle that I spotted IT.

Back in our (germy) church nursery near the turn of the millennium, my kids played with a large plastic "garden" you could sit in.  Not that it made much sense, but the garden consisted of a plastic picket fence, some spinning plastic birds, flowers, and a mailbox. They'd make a bee-line for it, play with the plastic flowers, and put a germy plastic letter in and out of the pretend mail box for hours.

When I spotted it, I wanted my late-in-life miracle baby to have his own plastic garden to play with, once I'd cleaned it up, of course. Except it meant venturing into the germ zone, in December, one day before a major milestone family vacation.

Why didn't I just lick a urinal at Dulles Airport?

Shoring up my resolve, I darted in, then hoisted the behemoth onto my cart. As I tried to wheel it toward check out, something else caught my eye. Bags and bags of ball pit balls. Because if Miracle Baby wasn't enamored enough with the garden and its 15+ years of embedded germs and memories and fun, I could fill it with ball pit balls! Looking back, I see that this was the moment when my senses completed their leave-taking, because there is nothing, nothing, NOTHING more disgusitng than ball pit balls of unknown origin. Haven't we all heard the tales of horrible things found in ball pits? Syringes? Vomit? The wayward turd?

But what (I imagine) Miracle Baby wants, Miracle Baby gets, so I threw the bags of balls on top of the "garden" and made my way out of the store. A fierce winter wind threatened to topple us, but we made it to the car.

Except it wasn't my car.


I forgot my husband took my big car that day and left me with his small Toyota

I didn't know how I'd get the garden in the car, but I knew it would involve touching it more than I already had. And my hand sanitizer was running low by that point.

Getting it in the car would likely involve full body contact. I needed a plan. The trunk? No amount of shoving could make it fit. The front seat? Even with the seat fully reclined and pushed back, it wasn't even close. I'd have to somehow get it in the back seat, even though that looked impossible. With all the shoving and maneuvering, I'd already worked up a sweat even though it was bitterly cold outside. I was  making a spectacle of myself.

The back seat was my last chance.

I almost gave up, turned around, and re-donated it to the thrift shop.

Finally, I did what no parent ever wants to do and unhooked the baby's carseat-- so expertly installed by my husband-- and tossed it aside.

That provided enough room to POTENTIALLY get the garden in the car. I turned it on its side and shimmied up against its nasty plastic edge. Nothing short of full body contact and repeated thrusting could get it in the car. The plastic grazed my lips. Ugh. I wrapped my arms around it and humped that garden with determination until I managed to wedge it in enough to shut both car doors.


I eventually got it out and cleaned it enough to set it up in the house. After school, Margaret walked in and her face lit up, "I remember that garden! That was my favorite thing to play with in the nursery! Did it come with the piece of plastic mail?"


"That was the best part."



Susan said...

My grandkids head straight to that mailbox and that yellow piece of mail (garage sale find) 📫

Jen said...

I totally bought the same item used and had A Toyota corolla.

Anonymous said...

I totally remember that toy! Kids love it! Open and close the door, send the mail etc. There is also a FP smart home toy or something like that kids love also.

BTW, I laughed my butt off over you humping the toy repeatedly to get it into the car. The things we will do for our kidlets, Miracle Baby or not! :D

Anonymous said...

Love this! We never do enough! Your little guy will love it all the same.

Paula said...

I felt totally liberated when my kids were old enough to rid the house of all things plastic! Legos don't count, right? And there may be a doll house or two (kept out of sight) for the future grandkids. I am not familiar with the "garden". I hope Andrew enjoys it despite the missing mail!
Happy New Year!

Unknown said...

Check "Little Tikes Mail" on eBay...they have replacement letters! 😉

Gigi said...

Well, of COURSE, it didn't have the "best part." The little one will love it.

Anonymous said...

I am a 50something mom of 2 early 20something kids and do not know of this toy. However, your account of buying it and getting it home was hilarious!! I so identify with the germaphobia, especially right before a trip. Hope your vacation was fun and illness free!


Denise said...

Oh boy, I LOVED that garden! I had tears in my eyes reading your post. I remember being thrilled to get rid of one more large plastic toy, but boy I would love to see it again right now. I'm sure it's thoroughly de-germified and will be thoroughly loved! Mail is available on Ebay. Why don't you get Margaret some for Valentines Day? I bet she'd get a big kick out of it.

Jenn said...

I totally remember that plastic garden toy from when I volunteered at the nursery at VPC when my kiddos were little! The first thing that came to mind was the onion? I need a picture! :-)

Kathleen said...

Please tell me no one got sick!

Andrea Mowery said...

You are hilarious - ball pit balls, really? ::shudder:: And now you have to worry about Margaret fighting over the plastic letter with Miracle Baby when you find one on ebay.

I used to work in our church nursery and vowed to clean those toys once a week after all the babies slobbered and boogered on them. Nobody's kids are going home sick on MY watch!

That lasted about a month. Because, as you said, 15+ of plastic-embedded germs aren't going anywhere.

Unknown said...

And you did get sick! But since it was after the vacation I suspect it wasn't related. Such a funny image. :-) (not you being sick)

Anonymous said...

This is so awesome, another reason I'm convinced we would be friends IRL.

Unknown said...

That was so so funny. Ty!

www.robinbotie.com said...

A riot! Cheers! And it didn't have "the best part!" But did you all survive without getting any nasty germs?

Unknown said...

You know what would be a cool tradition? Margaret sending him mail. Maybe pictures at first, then letters you could share as he gets older? I bet they'd both treasure that more than the little piece of plastic mail.