Peanut has been asking for a dollhouse since before her birthday in mid-August. I searched the internet for the right one, but they were either:
A) too expensive and, in my opinion, beyond her needs with many fine details and features that she’d likely destroy before ever appreciating them, or
B) outright babyish – something she’d outgrow in a year or so.
So her birthday came and went with no dollhouse. And she’s kept asking.
Driving to the gym Friday morning, we went through a neighboring town that was gearing up for bulk trash pickup. Nearly every house had old mattresses, broken furniture, moldy couches and bins of miscellaneous junk lined up in the driveway. And in front of one house was a big pink and white dollhouse. I spied it from about 100 yards, but it was broad daylight and this was a busy road. I kept right on driving without much further thought.
Many hours later I was driving home from the grocery store on the same road. Now, it was dark and the road more deserted. As I approached the discarded house, my brain started to twirl. Maybe I should take it? People do it all the time, right? I’ve even heard stories of people who drive through swanky towns with trailers and trucks the night before bulk pickup, grabbing everything that looks halfway decent by the light of the moon.
But I kept driving. I drove for five more minutes, but I could not stop thinking about that house.
I turned around.
And drove by again, chickening out.
But now I was driving away from home and had to turn back and pass it again, so I slowed enough to assess the situation.
Was the dollhouse in good shape?
Did it look like it was in one piece?
Most importantly, would there be any witnesses?
There was in fact someone in the living room watching TV. But it’s dark, my mind said. They’ll never see you. And even if they do, so what? Is someone really going to barge from the house, screaming, “Stop thief! Unhand my trash?”
Of course not! But the shame of being seen taking someone else’s trash is a powerful thing. I kept driving.
Then turned back again. I turned around five times in total before finally getting the nerve to pull over just beyond the light cast by the lamp on the porch, throw my car into park, wait to be 100% sure there were no approaching cars, and then run – like I have never run before – back to grab that house.
I felt like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible running quickly on my toes so my feet wouldn’t slap on the pavement. As I lifted the house I realized it was haphazardly filled with plastic furniture, which shifted a bit as I picked up the house. In reality, the sound was probably barely audible, but to me was the equivalent of cymbals crashing together. I raced back to my car trying to keep the house steady and prevent the furniture from falling noisily to the ground.
I shoved it into the passenger side and for one horrifying moment I didn’t think it was going to fit. Was I really going to have to run and put it back?!? Please, God, I thought, please let this friggen’ thing fit. I’ll stop swearing and nibbling from the bulk bins at Whole Foods – I promise. And then, with one more good shove, it did. (Thank you, God! Though I will miss those organic chocolate chips.) I shut the door as quietly as I could, ran to the driver’s side and raced off. The house was mine!
Upon arriving home I inspected it with a flashlight. It was covered in mud and sand – probably having spent the last days of its played-with life in a backyard sandbox, and some of the fixtures were missing. The stairs have no banister, just big holes where the posts used to be. And the pedestal sink in the bathroom is missing its basin. Many of the decorative decals are wholly or partially gone.
But otherwise, it’s in good shape. While the rattling furniture - a cradle, sofa, some chairs, an entertainment center and double bed – nearly gave me a heart attack at the scene of the crime, it’s been a huge hit with the wee ones. Even more surprising, once I replaced the battery, the little light that sits on the dresser in the second bedroom still works. A good scrubbing with soap and water (and bleach, because I am anal like that) and it’s really perfectly adequate.
Peanut and Loaf have been in seventh heaven since I brought it in on Saturday. Plus, it makes me feel good that it’s not clogging up a landfill somewhere (reduce, reuse, recycle and all that good stuff).
Combine that with scoring the last T.M.X. Elmo
(which is for Christmas) for $37.45 on the shelf at Target of all places on Saturday (when all week I’ve been watching people pay $75 to $200 for them on ebay
), and I’m pretty much feeling like Toy Providing Mom of the Year.
Hours of fun: