Tax refund season at our house can pretty much be summed up this way: The road to financial disaster, (straight down No Self Control Blvd, conveniently located next to several bookstores and Starbucks) is paved with good intentions.
We intended to be completely out of debt. We intended to beef up our savings. We intended to buy that new shower curtain liner we have so desperately been in need of for the last few months. But first: To the bookstore! And wouldn't you know there's a Toys R Us on the way there?
Don't worry, we did actually do all that stuff we intended to. But it was close. Thanks to a deceptive little thing called.. dun dun DUNNN... Calico Critters.
There we were, waiting patiently at a red light, when it beckoned from a shopping center across the street:
"Come over here! I'm made of bright and fun colors! Look at me!"
I sneaked a glance at Douglas. He had seen it too, but was pretending he didn't. We stared at the roof of the car and hummed.
"What kind of parents are you? Your 4-year-old doesn't even know toy stores exist!"
This was true, but we had carefully planned it that way.
"Come on, when is the next time you'll have a few extra bucks to spend? It will only take a minute, just pick out one thing! Imagine her sweet little face lit up with the delightful prospect of miles of endless fun!"
We looked at each other, grinning and nodding at the same time. As we pulled into the parking lot strewn with Geoffrey the Giraffe shopping carts, we began to giggle. Carly still didn't know what was about to happen, and we were giddy with anticipation of her impending euphoria. We galloped across the parking lot, dragging our confused and cranky child along behind.
Then the automatic doors slid open....
Several minutes of frantic shrieking ensued, (mostly from Carly) which, to her adoring parents, was the most precious thing in the world. She made a beeline for the Power Wheels and tricycles, and we had to sadly explain that we lived on the third floor and it just wasn't going to happen. Her pathetic little expression of heartbreak may or may not have influenced our judgment when it came to sticking to the one-toy-only rule.
We scurried past the "boy" toys, being the sexist parents we are, and let her wander up and down the aisles of Barbies, dress-up accessories, and creepy baby dolls. After several debates over whether or not hooker Bratz dolls were an appropriate choice, I began to wish we had stayed in the plastic tool set aisle.
Then I saw it....
It was so cute that I almost died. Right there in the aisle.
I know, right?
Now we didn't actually buy this one because it was 70 gajillion dollars for JUST the house- No wallpaper, no furniture, no critters. Ridiculous. But we did end up with the cozy little Critter Cottage, which came furnished. Do you have any idea how difficult it was to control myself? It makes me think of those commercials that I saw as a kid on Nickelodeon, when they were having a toy shopping spree sweepstakes. Remember? They showed clips of kids running up and down the aisles of toy stores, grabbing any and all the toys the could and bulldozing through the store with overflowing carts. That was exactly what I wanted to do in this aisle.
Anyway, they had all these accessories and little velvet-flocked critter families:
Cutest thing ever, right? COME ON they even have their own wood-paneled station wagon! That beats the Barbie convertible any day.
So Carly agrees to settle for the Calico Critter Everything instead of the Bratz Super Fun Makeup Boombox, and I skip to the checkout counter, excited to get home and
I was so tired when we got home that I went straight to bed, and today when I got home from work Carly was taking a nap. This gave me several happy hours to play with the cottage. I mean...tidy it up a little for her so it would be ready when she wanted to play.
Later this evening, she sat at the cottage playing contentedly, when she sat up in panic and alarm. "MOMMY! Help! There's no potty! They can't make a pee pee!!"
Sure enough, the good folks at Calico Critters of Cloverleaf Corners had failed to include a potty. I thought for a moment and explained, "Well that's alright sweetie, they're animals so it's ok for them to go potty in the backyard behind the cottage."
She rolled her eyes and explained in a huff, "Mommyyyy... They're just toys, they can't potty."
I shrugged and went about my business. A few minutes later I noticed she had dragged out her old Fisher Price dollhouse and was converting all the darling, adorable, expensive Critter Cottage furniture to the ugly, sticky, garage sale hunk of plastic.
The Fisher Price dollhouse had a potty.
You win again, Fisher Price.