Free-Floating Hostility

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Toy Story

Today I fell into the quicksand that is our local toy store, charmingly named Alphabet Moon. I had gone in planning to efficiently snatch up a cloth book for our neonatal neighbor to chew, and a consolation gift for his older sister. But I developed something akin to Video Store Amnesia, which I'm going to dub Toy Store Stupor. I don't think I was alone. Most of the adults in there had kids in tow, of course, and were prevented from falling into anything so relaxing as a stupor by their kids careering around the place as though they'd just been released from a particle accelerator. But among the lone adults I noticed a distinct torpor as they stood around obsessing over whether to get the child they were wooing a developmentally appropriate puzzle, or something she'd really like, such as poisonous glitter. Since as childless adults our purpose in going to the toy store was to make the child in question love us more than her real aunts and uncles, we generally opted for the poison. In my case, however, I managed to pull myself together after literally an hour of browsing during which the place had emptied out as the 2:00 birthdays got underway. I chose a harlequinesque clothy mirror for the baby and a toy cell phone for the toddler on which her parents can record their voices. "How are you doing?" asked the cashier. "I've lost all sense of perspective," I said dully. "I get that a lot in here," she replied.

We brought over the presents this evening, and the cell phone was a huge hit, making the obsessing eminently worthwhile. Sophia played with the phone constantly, asking "Who is it?" when the phone rang (or usually, before) and then flipping it open to her obvious satisfaction. As I have mentioned, she is an extremely bright two-and-a-half-year-old. At first she would respond to the phone ringing by exclaiming, "The phone's talking," but she picked up almost immediately on my cues and by the third ring, she looked me in the eye and said, "The phone's...winging." By the fourth ring she was a natural. Needless to say, there were something like forty pretend phone calls before we left. The baby is still too new to be attractive, but he's a welcome addition to the building. Their parents, who are incredibly lovely people, are pretty cheerful considering that Mom can barely walk and Dad hasn't been able to shower for four days. Michael reported feeling intimidated by the breastfeeding, meaning we can add breastfeeding to a list that currently includes musicians, religion, cricket and overtures of friendship. They asked us, as usual, when we were going to have our kid, but were content enough with the answer that for now our plan is to live through them.

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