Thursday, August 31, 2006

Buying It

I’m at “Stuff,” the local and trendy consignment shop in town. “Stuff” is so trendy, in fact, that it sports four locations in the area, houses a coffee shop in one of them, and sells children’s easels for a whopping $19.99—the same price you would pay at Target. But not all their stuff is overpriced. For example, the very-new looking, two-toned hot pink Converse baby high-tops in Evvy’s (almost) size were $2.49 (with the day’s 25% discount special on clothing).

My eyes leapt to the converse shoes on the baby shoe shelf immediately. They were the prettiest, cleanest, newest pair there, and I thought of my good girl, Kate (another stay-at-home mommy), and her two children who are consistently bedecked in Chuck Taylors.

“Look, Ev. These are like Emma’s shoes!” I said with excitement that Evvy reacted to.

“Emma’s shoes. Emma’s shoes. On.” She lifted a foot.

I checked the size. Half a size larger than the shoes Evvy just started wearing--the ones with extra growing room, the ones I bought for full price at Stride Rite. I put the All Stars on Ev. They were too big in the length, and there’s no telling whether her foot would slim down enough to fit into a regular width in sixth months. Still, she loved them (I loved them), and I thought: They’re only three bucks. Of course we’d get them.

I paid and left with the spoils of my plunder, and it’s then that I felt my first wave of guilt, thanks to Judith Levine’s new book Not Buying It: My Year Without Shopping, in which Levine discusses the concept of our ecological “footprints.”

Ecological footprint: In square miles, how much of the earth’s resources will I use up in my lifetime?

Or: In baby shoes, how much of my money will I spend in a lifetime? It occurs to me that the hot pink, very cool Chuck Taylor All Stars might be a complete waste, since Evvy might never actually wear them.

“You’re worried about three dollars?” you might ask. Two forty-nine to be exact. I’m worried, yes--because I make far too many Converse-baby-high-top sorts of purchases: The items are always cheap, always cute, and never (or under) utilized.

Monday, August 28, 2006

In the Rain to the Chiropractor and Home Again Jiggity Jig

The kids and I scurried out the door this a.m. at 9:35. This was my second scurrying out the door in one morning. At 7:55, I'd left in a downpour to get my blood drawn at the med lab in the neighborhood. Back again at 8:30 to do some bills, pack up the kids and get to the chiropractor's by 10:00. We bring a DVD player/TV along that I plug in the wall of the chiro's personal office, right next to his three pairs of shoes (orthopaedic, exercise, and business casual). On a good day, the kiddos sit wedged between the window and his desk and watch Bob the Builder while I get an adjustment. On a bad day the 1 year old cries in fear of the adjustment table that zooms to a horizontal plain and tilts back up again.

But that is the easiest part of the trip today. Today, the fact that M. had put "away" my raincoat when I got home earlier is causing me not to be able to find it. So I'm wet and cold in the car to the doc. The worst part of the doc visit with the kids is the waiting room. There are no toys here. Only drying peace lillies and bookshelves full of meticulously arranged supplement bottles. I rely on banana bread, ring around the rosy, and a land version of "motorboat" to fill the time. But my kids get feisty during the half hour wait. Una begins shrieking, running and jumping onto the leather loveseat in the waiting room and Evvy follows suit. Una flings her stuffed puppy high into the air and it comes crashing down on a display table. Evvy throws her puppy.

To curb the behavior, I have civilized talks with the four year old, and in civilized fashion order her to time-out on an office chair (for running and jumping on me). The 1 year old gets a time-out too for the same thing. Then the receptionist saves the day with news of her grandmotherly status: a granddaughter was born at midnight last night (!). This is enough to elicit a wide-mouthed nod from the 4 year old as she contemplates the news.

With time outs over and Madelyn at the computer again, it's back to imaginative play. I say to the girls, "Let's pretend we are flowers opening up in the morning light." I describe the first pink hint of sun rising up from the eastern sky, the dew drops on our petals, our straigtening up as the morning light chases the darkness to the west, our unfolding into full bloom. This is met with unabaited enthusiasm and calls of "let's do it again! let's do it again!" I'm feeling pretty proud of myself with not only my educational game, but my apparent amplitude of patience and creative generosity. More patients wander into the waiting room and find a spot, watchfully eyeing my girls (and me) as we "blow in the light breeze, and whip around in the strong wind."

After the fourth run through flowers-opening-in-morning-light I am starting to lose my enthusiasm and become aware of how dopy it feels to be a grown-up waggling around on the floor of my chiropractor's waiting room in pretense of sunflowerdom. But this game is what keeps boredom in my children at bay. And boredom is just the appetizer for jumping on couches, which precedes hysterics. So I keep going.

On our way out the door after my adjustment, one hip-looking, middle-aged woman calls to me from her spot in a far corner. "You're really good with them, and patient," she says authoritatively. "Those games you were playing were fantastic."

"Thanks," I say sheepishly, and admit that, in regard to patience, I am sometimes screaming "on the inside."

I zip up the girls raincoats, pack away the dvd player to the sounds of them chirping like a nest of baby birds. "Can we go to Playland, Mommy? I want to go to the Mall." "Mall, mall. Playland."
In the hall way outside the chiropractor, we stand in wait of the elevator that will take us to the ground floor. When the door barrels open, a middle-aged man looks down at them, aghast. "Oh! Oh my," he breathes in an effeminate honeyed tone of concern, and steps quickly out of the elevator while keeping one arm across the door slot. I thought he'd utter something about the girls' "cuteness", which is what I usually hear when strangers in elevators are surprised by the presence of my children, but the man seems truly alarmed as he looks from them to me and back at them again. He reiterates: "Oh. Oh my!"

When the girls and I were safely in the elevator and he was safely out of it, he removes his arm from the door and finds a sextuplet of panicked words.

He looks at me with wrinkled brow and soothes, "Oh my gosh, Mom! Good luck."