Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Things fall apart. Or just fall. Again.

We're back!

Pulled into our driveway at 1 AM on Sunday (or rather, Monday morning), my dad arrived Monday evening. Yesterday, in an attempt to design a low-key yet interesting neighborhoody day and promote bonding between grandparent and grandchild, I took Mermaid Girl and my dad for a walk down to the deli and then to the library so MG could hand in her Summer Reading record sheet with requisite hoopla and picture-taking. We also took the Incredible Pink Scooter that Aunt Cady gave her in Molson, BC, which we then schlepped across the province, shoving it into the sleeping-bag storage closet every night.

But I digress. Because the point is, we took the scooter and also the brand-new Polllly Pucket Mermaids, because I suggested to MG that she might want something to play with in the restaurant. I even offered to carry them in my own pockets, though I think they also spent some time in the scooter basket, which in turn spent some time hoisted in turn over my dad's and my respective shoulders as MG refused to ride it for longer than a few yards at a time.

You may be able to guess where this is going (hint: see the Pride Parade post for foreshadowing). Several hundred hours and a couple dozen low-level power struggles later, we returned to the house, and then came the inevitable question: "Mommy? My new Pollly Puckets that I just bought with my own money? Mommy? MOMMY?!?!?! WAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!"

By that point Jessie had been dropped off for an afternoon visit because she and MG couldn't stand one more moment out of each other's sight, but poor Jessie had to sit around for half an hour or so while MG moaned and sobbed and I called the deli and the library and no, they hadn't seen two tiny little mermaid dolls, sorry. I briefly considered dragging everyone out again into the hot afternoon to retrace our steps, or else leaving the stoic Jessie and the wailing, keening MG with my dad--who was still recovering from the previous day's 14-hour standby nightmare--while I looked on my own, but neither one seemed like such a great idea.

Finally MG knucked under to my threats to take Jessie home if she didn't pull it together and act like some kind of hostess (empty threats, as it turned out, because I called Jessie's mom and no one was home) and put aside her grief to splash in the backyard wading pool. My dad read the paper, and I did laundry and struggled with the moral dilemma of what to do.

This morning we called the Matttel people, who said they don't carry individual parts for these particular items (both dolls were part of elaborate product sets) because the cost with shipping would be more than just buying a whole new damn set. We're still thinking about whether it's worth ordering the sets again.

My offer to MG at the moment is that if she wants to buy replacement dolls, I'll pay for half. She has enough money right now to do this deal but one of the sets, but not both. She's now mostly okay, but is subject to fits of Pollly-Pucket related melancholy.

Which leaves me with the following conclusions:

1) I'm either a wussy marshmallow parent who doesn't allow her child to become responsible for her own things, or a mean mommy who loses her kid's brand-new dolls that she bought with her own lemonade-selling money and then refuses to replace them. Or both.

2) In either case, dealing calmly and decisively with this kind of crisis is not, to put it mildly, my forte.

3) As of today, the Boredom-Forestalling Objects of Choice for outings with MG will be limited to paper and pencils so she can draw. Anything else she wants to bring, she's strictly on her own.

4) I should rename my blog "The art of Losing," since that's all we seem to do these days. (You should've heard RW and me on the trip. Every day, the same thing: "Where's the...[fill in name of small but important object here]?" "I don't know; where'd you put it?" "I thought you put it away!" "I thought you put it away!" etc. etc. until we were ready to throw each other off the numerous scenic mountains.)

5) While writing this post, I finally hit upon a much more effective method for promoting grandparent-grandchild bonding: disappear from the scene and hide in the bedroom with the computer! MG and my dad are happily reading The Dumb Bunnies, and I am happily not-dragging-everyone-around-town.

Okay. Now I'm going to promote even more bonding by catching up on everyone else's blogs. Trip news coming soon. It's good to be back. Really. It is.


Blogger Kate R said...

I have no clue what you should do and I've been dealing with this very same subject for more than a decade.

I think the paying for half thing is as good an answer as any.

Don't bet that this is a passing grief. My middle boy still recalls losing his best toy--a tiny robot--that he bought with his own money SEVEN YEARS AGO. He lost it in a library, too, those rotten thieving places.

Did the grief teach him to be more careful? (Did he just lose ten dollars yesterday?)

3:39 PM  
Blogger Jo said...

Gadzooks. I have to admit that particular scenario has never come up for me. Why? Are my children afraid of me? Do they have as bad a memory gland as I do? For once, I'm lucky to have bypassed a parenting experience.

Yay, you're back!

6:56 PM  
Blogger bihari said...

This is the thing that drives me most crazy about being a parent: like you, I can come up with several possible answers about what I should do for every scenario which arises. And since scenarios arise every hour on the half hour (and will for, oh, the rest of my life I suppose), I am doomed. It's exhausting.

That said, I like your pay-half idea and plan to steal it. And having lost two animals from a Fischer-Price farm set (not replaceable without buying the whole thing again), I join you in now bringing only unloved objects on outings.

I have no idea what I will do when one of the boys crashes the car in sixteen years.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous badgerbag said...

This happened to me over the weekend with the especially beloved new penguin puppet. And I went back to the place to find it and found it. (WHEW.)

I still remember the pain of my kindergarten teacher taking my beloved alligator and saying I wouldn't get it back till the end of the year. And I thought of him in her dark file cabinet, suffering! And then at the end of the year, she had lost him. Oh, I hated her!

The pay-half sounds like a good idea!

9:52 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

Delurking to say...

You might check ebay for bits and pieces of bigger sets. Sometimes you find stuff like that there.

Lurker out.

8:10 AM  
Blogger LilySea said...

Wow. That's really tricky.
Your whole blog is like ominous foreshadowing as far as I'm concerned. I think I have trouble now because Nat can't break the 4-hours-in-a-row sleep barrier?


Clearly, it gets much, much worse.

I guess I agree with others that the pay for half is a good compromise. Unless you can indeed get it on e-bay which would be totally great.

9:38 PM  
Blogger ~cj~ said...

:) I am a mom of a 3 year old and this type of thing has happened to us too. I think that it is an important part of growth and development. After all, isn't it one of those nasty realities we all face in life - loosing things we enjoy? I think that the idea above of checking out ebay is excellent, and your idea of paying for half is also a excellent idea. Its a good teaching moment - hopefully your daughter will learn from it as much as you did!

1:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The art of losing

One Art

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

— Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

— Elizabeth Bishop

I have a different take on this. MG is 4, going on 5, and I think she has plenty of time to practice losing things. Just buy her the damned replacement set and tell her it's a present. You don't even have to explain that you won't always buy her things she loses, blah, blah, blah. Just use that magical phrase "I changed my mind" and buy it for her and only take pencil and paper from now on. When she is 40 and you are 74, which do you think is more likely:
a. You will look back and think "thank goodness I didn't buy those dolls, because the important lesson she learned from that experience has been the central element of her entire adulthood"
b. You will look back and think "why the hell didn't I replace those dolls?"

Childhood grief is so poignant. And she doesn't have the money right now to replace both, and, unlike us, she can't just go out and charge them, either. This is one of the rare pains you can save her from. And believe me, you don't spoil her, though you worry you do.


3:45 AM  

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