After a plaything inventory over the weekend, we decided that
Mom and Dad the Twins were growing bored with our current toy selection, so we took Double Trouble for their first ever visit to Toys “R” Us. (Don’t worry, I was sure to alert them to the store name’s grammatical usage error. Papa is not inclined to raise any fools, you all.)
I had not been to a Toys “R” Us for years, and as I crossed the threshold, was promptly reminded how much I don’t wanna grow up. Although I’m quickly closing in on three decades of John, one of the perks of parenting is the justification for purchasing badass toys without appearing to be The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. So many groundbreaking advances in toy technology have been made since I was last in the market for toys years ago, and I attribute this to Toy Succession, a principle I am just now making up, positing that toys are improved as each generation grows up and applies changes they wish they had when they were children, ultimately allowing already-awesome toys to become uber-awesome.
For example, when I was a child Legomaniac, there were only three Lego genres on the market: Town, Castle, and Space. Now, a glimpse at the Lego section of a toy store features too many to count, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, SpongeBob Squarepants, and even Ninjas! Gone are the days of having to imagine that a black space helmet is a ninja mask. Just as the iPhone probably has “an app for that,” Lego has a piece for that.
During the course of the We Are Toys visit my wife and I got separated, which is easy to do amidst such fine merchandise, especially as a new parent fueled by the excitement of sharing it with our kids and getting that genuine, unbridled ear-to-ear smile we parents feed off like addicts. I was flying solo with the shopping car, while my wife was rollin’ hard with the double stroller and thus, the Twinfants. When I finally caught up with the rest of my family, I found my daughter glomming intently on a Sesame-Street-themed piece of cardboard packaging, with the back side facing up. “What’s that you have there, little girl?” I asked.
For those who are not parents, this is a fun thing we do when requesting information–directing the question to the baby who cannot reply sufficiently while the other parent (who actually knows the answer and, as an added bonus, can verbalize it) is in earshot.
My wife spoke for my daughter. “A stuffed Elmo. I showed it to her to see if she liked it and she just grabbed it and started chewing it.” As mentioned previously, the Twins, like legions of other half-pints, are card-carrying members of Elmo’s Army.
“Cool! Can I see it, little girl?” I inquired, reaching for it.
My daughter’s eyes welled up as I approached the package, and I heard the slow, growing rumble of a tiny freakout. “No, don’t!” My wife hissed. “I already tried to take it. She flipped out. I think we need to take it home.”
I know it’s still early to say this, but I don’t plan on being one to cave just because my kids will cry if I don’t buy them something. Having survived their first colds and the recurring perils of teething, I’ve become relatively desensitized to crying. I’m not saying I’m immune–it’s been scientifically proven that a crying baby upsets anyone–both parents and non-parents. All I’m saying is my adventures as a stay-at-home dad have granted me the power to keep a cool head, even in the face of tears in stereo. On this particular day, both kids happened to be teething hard, so I had no problem with my daughter gnawing on this item–whatever it was–as long as it would quell the day’s tenth tantrum.
“It’s that one,” my wife continued, indicating a colony of “My First Elmos” on the shelf.
I’d already resigned myself to purchasing Her First Elmo, adhering to the axiom of “You break it, you buy it,” or my favorite incarnation of the saying, which we found on a poorly-translated-to-English sign in an Asian restaurant a few years back:
I checked Elmo’s price tag and found a dollar amount to my liking–in fact, I would have willingly bought the toy anyway. No harm, no foul.
However, we came close to a meltdown when wrenching Everyone’s Favorite Monster out of our daughter’s clenched fists as choke-able cardboard/saliva flakes peeked from the corners of her mouth. With a swift, Indiana Jones switch, I thrusted a wad of toy keys into her tiny fingers just after extraction, with limited tantrum-mercial interruption, while my wife inspected her mouth for debris.
Having reflected on this occurrence, particularly my wife’s reasoning, I got to thinking about its implications.
On a completely unrelated note, there is a possibility that tomorrow, I will spontaneously decide to take the Twins to the Apple Store at our local mall. If, during the course of the purely-for-browsing-purposes-only excursion, I happen to show my teething daughter an iPad “to see if she likes it” and “she just grabs it and starts chewing it,” it will not at all be my fault, but I will tragically and begrudgingly be forced to purchase the item, as the pristine Feng Shui Apple packaging will surely be ruined.
Don’t tell my wife.
But if she does happen to get word, I will have the landmark decision of Daughter v. Board of ElmoCasing as a precedent.
As an added precaution, I may or may not slip my daughter the receipt post-purchase.
After all, I wouldn’t want her to make a scene. It may upset the Geniuses.
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If not, wow! Check out this piece of cardboard! That looks pretty tasty.
If MacGyver were a ninja, he’d be unstoppable. His unmatched improvisational found-item remedies have gotten him out of many a jam, and if melded with the stealth, agile, disciplined strength of a ninja, he would be vulnerable only to Chuck Norris and God himself.
Now let’s say someone besides Ninja MacGyver were to exhibit these qualities. It would inspire an amalgam of awe, respect, and just a dash of fear in this amazing individual’s fellow man, right?
You’re darn tootin’.
Well, I am here to tell you that I have found such a person, and that I am he.
Allow me to explain.
We moved this past weekend, and while moving is never the greatest thing since Al Gore single-handedly invented the Internet, we’re thrilled with our new place. Sure, many of its major appliances were either nonexistent (washer and dryer) or broken (dishwasher and refrigerator) when we arrived, but we’ll get there. The important part–the reason we moved–is that we’re back in Phoenix. For financial reasons, we moved 30 minutes away from our family, friends, and civilization in general a year ago. The hour-long round trip essentially forced us to be more antisocial than we’d prefer, cramming multiple events, errands and visits into marathon weekends with the Twinfants and their feeding/changing/playing accessories in tow. While the constant commute wore on us, the Twins made it all worth it.
But now we’re back, and the country roads that took us home to a place we didn’t belong are fading from memory, as if all a bad dream.
However, the week before we achieved manifest destiny, I entrusted the Twinfants to the care of their Grandma and made trips to the new house to drop off fragile items (you know, ice sculptures, taxidermic animals, cinderblocks…) and make preparations to facilitate the influx of boxes we are still tripping over. One of these tasks was to acquire and program new garage door remotes since we were not left any by the previous occupants.
I’d done this before and selected my go-to universal remote, as it is one of few automated products with instructions that actually mean it when they say setup only takes five minutes. Behold the Chamberlain Clicker:
However, the five minutes it usually takes to sync this remote was thwarted by the bane of many consumers, the dreaded plastic packaging:
Upon seeing this, I thought, No problem. I’ll just go get the scissors… Oh. Sh!t.
It was at that moment I realized I had no scissors.
I had no knife.
All I had was the aforementioned fragile odds and ends we were too lazy to box.
I wasn’t about to drive 30 minutes back to our other house and 30 minutes back, and after spending three hours store-hopping for new house supplies, I really didn’t want to buy new ones, especially since we already own five.
My gut reaction was to channel my inner Larry David.
But after a deep, calming breath, I decided to survey the house and see what I had to work with. None of my keys were sharp enough, and too-thin picture-hanging nails left in the walls were also a bust. Even Christopher’s (our mounted sabre tooth tiger) fangs were too dull. I paced from room to room, about to give up.
Then, a heavenly beacon of light shone upon these:
I’ve stated previously that my wife and I are ninjas, but I’ve suspected your skepticism, O Loyal Reader. Maybe now you’ll believe me.
A smile slashed clear through my peeved demeanor. YES.
This life-changing moment immediately reminded me of a certain Bruce Willis scene in Pulp Fiction.
Figuring it would give me the most leverage (and since I have nothing to prove phallically) I selected the shortest blade.
I strategically positioned it.
Then, remembering my internship with Pai Mei, I harnessed my chi and lashed forward in one powerful, lighnting-quick motion.
The impenetrable seal had been vanquished. The heavens sang.
Out of respect for my adversary, I switched to more civilized hand-to-hand combat to finish it off.
Having watched his brother fall to a gruesome demise, the package for the second remote was already waving a white flag as I scissor-kicked towards it. No contest.
The battle won, I flaunted my bounty in an elaborate procession to the garage, where I found the garage door opener sealed shut with Phillips head screws.
And I had no screwdriver.
I eyed the sword for a moment. Maybe if I… No. Bad idea.
Sighing in defeat, I backflipped into the house and started looking for a Phillips head.
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If not, you probably shouldn’t say it out loud. I may hear you.