First loves

I have a love/hate relationship with garage sales. There’s a lot not to like: the sudden stops and awkward parking, the necessary chit-chat, the perusing of someone’s junk laid bare for all to see. But the deals! It’s the quest for great bargains (and memories of past spoils) that spur me on.

So here was the scene last weekend: 40-degree weather, neighborhood garage sale. Me, frantically pawing through bins and boxes, doing mental math on the girls’ shoe/clothing sizes and variable growth rates. Adam: grimly wheeling the double stroller around the driveway. Blythe: crying. Beatrice: alternately demanding cocoa, whining, and chucking her blanket overboard. And just when we were looking especially absurd and the owners were trying to distract Beatrice or soothe Blythe, Beatrice would triumphantly yell, “Potty break!”

I was that determined.

It was miserable, and I wouldn’t do it again, but we got some great pity deals. And that is why I insist on going: snow pants, winter jacket, booster seat, shoes, dress, and winter hat for $12? Yes please!

After we all went home, warmed up, ate lunch, and napped, I set out once again for a few sales with Beatrice in tow. Again, you have to really want it to set out via car with a toddler, especially one who insists, “I do it myself!” about getting herself in the car and her carseat. Five minutes later, we’re ready to set off. I never knew parenting had so much in common with Zen Buddhism.

I kept Bee moving with the promise of buying her some toys, but sadly, I couldn’t find anything good. So I kept hussling her back in the car on the promise of toys at the next sale! when finally, on the way home, we hit pay dirt.

I was checking out a jumperoo for Blythe when I noticed Beatrice playing with some wooden train tracks from a cardboard box. I peeked in. Mixed in with random toys was one boy’s love affair with Thomas the Tank Engine. Now aged ten or so, he came over to show Beatrice how they worked — how the crossing station made noise, how the train garage could shoot out the trains.

“He collected them over the years,” his mom volunteered. “He’d get them for birthdays and Christmases.”

I peeled off a couple of bills and she bagged them up. And there they went — one boy’s first love to an unsuspecting toddler in one fell swoop.

I felt bad for those Velveteen Rabbit trains, but that’s the way things go: you love things, and then you don’t, and there isn’t a dollar value that can justify that love.

But for now there is one girl excited about choo-choos, whose first loves are destined to face the same fate.

Thomas the Tank Engine


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