I want to enjoy a peaceful summer afternoon with my kids, so I offer to take them to the store and let them pick out a new toy. Each child has a budget of $20.
(By “enjoy”, I mean I want them to play by themselves, while I have a few minutes to myself and snack on some leftover cake I hid on top of the china cabinet in the dining room. I love cake.)
We all pile into the red minivan, dubbed the “Red Hot Chili Pepper”, for both its peppy color and sassy driver, and head to the nearest Target.
Nearly two hours and well over our combined budget of $100 later, we head for home. Target was painful; six-year old Charlie apparently struggles with decision-making and spent an inordinate amount of time pondering which toy to buy. At one point he asked if we could just buy a pool instead. I reminded him of his $20 budget and wondered to myself just what he did all day at school this year. Certainly wasn’t math.
During the car ride I fantasize about my afternoon ahead; I will enjoy a large slice of sugary buttercream-frosted cake and check Facebook while the little people play with their Little People. This idea was genius. I am genius.
Back in the house all five kids crowd me, begging to unlock their new treasures. And after a few minutes I realize I’m ill-prepared for the crazy packaging.
I mean, really? These toys are battened down better than Janet Jackson’s boob at the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show. Most require the elusive screwdriver just to get them out of the box, and at that point various trap doors and latches must be opened so batteries can be inserted. In our house, batteries are also elusive.
Not having a screwdriver handy I opt for a paring knife. I send the older boys on a house-wide search for batteries that can be taken from something and used in the Bey Blade thing Joey talked me into. They return quickly. I’m pretty sure they pillaged the remote to my Sleep Number mattress.
Must. Eat. Cake. Soon.
They hover over me while I finagle the knife and say mean, un-mom-like things like “Back away! We are not going to the hospital if I cut your finger trying to get this Lightning McQueen out of the box because it’s your fault!”
I wish they would stop breathing on me.
Forty-five minutes later, every Geo Track, Batman, Bey Blade, and Freddie is freed from its restrictive factory binding, free to explore life with a waiting child. And at last I’m free.
Elated, I rush to the dining room and hunker down over the white bakery box, spoon in hand. The afternoon’s half over so I don’t really have time to cut myself a piece; better to just eat right out of the container. I scoop up a spoonful of frosting and raise it to my open mouth, in time to hear the inevitable.
“Mo-om! This car is bro-ken!”