It was a simple plan. When the baby woke up from his nap, we would take a quick trip to The Home Depot.
I only needed a few things. It was a Friday, which is my day off as well as our designated Mommy-and-Theo day. I usually try to do at least one special/fun thing every Friday, but once you get to the tail-end of February, and you’re over the library and the finger painting, and you’d sooner stand outside naked in the 5-degree weather singing the Thomas & Friends theme song than make another trip to the skeevy children’s “museum” located in an office park a couple of towns over, you must get creative with your definition of “special” and “fun.” Hence, the trip to Home Depot.
I figured the kiddo would have a grand time riding in one of those special shopping carts that look like race cars. And he loves browsing in the lawnmower and power saw departments. If we were really lucky, maybe we’d even see a forklift carting some lumber around!
Maybe I was feeling extra ambitious thanks to the stretch of uninterrupted sleep we’ve been enjoying lately. Or perhaps I’ve been watching too much Rehab Addict on HGTV. And, if I’m being completely honest, I might have gotten a little carried away imagining the admiration of my fellow Home Depot shoppers as I strode purposefully down the concrete aisles, pointing out the power tools to my calm, inquisitive two-year-old, and looking completely comfortable and not at all intimidated or confused in any way. “Wow,” they would say to themselves. “She is a great mom and she knows a thing or two about home improvement. I am super impressed.”
As is often the case, the reality bore zero resemblance to the daydream (e.g., the recurring fantasy I have, before every trip to the salon, that this will be the visit when I finally break out and become one of those people who have hilarious and juicy conversations with their hairdressers, only to end up sitting in awkward silence for pretty much the whole time).
First of all, I don’t really know anything about home improvement, even though I have watched many episodes of Rehab Addict. The “big project” I was working on involved replacing a few doorknobs around the house. And although I am embarrassingly proud of the fact that I did, in fact, install them myself, picking them out turned out to be the most difficult part of the whole process. This was partly because there are about a million different doorknob styles and brands and finishes available at The Home Depot, but mostly because it’s really hard to focus on anything when you are with a small person who won’t stop whining about how he wants to get out of the shopping cart. Indeed, he could not have cared less that the rolling prison in which he was confined was designed to look like a race car. I agreed to take him out, with the naive proviso that he stay close to me, and his little Stride-Rites had barely brushed the floor when he took off in the direction of the screen doors.
I carried him back to the cart, sweating in my puffy coat, and curtailed his shrieks of protest by pulling a squeeze pouch from my purse. In the precious moments of quiet that followed, I managed to pull the correct doorknobs from the shelves and make my way over to the lighting section. The second blow of the day came when I could not, for the life of me, find the bathroom sconces. There were hideous chandeliers and pendant lamps and track lighting a-plenty, but what to do if all you wanted was a simple, cheap lighting fixture for your powder room?
If you were me, you sped over to the bathroom section, making vroom-vroom sounds in an increasingly desperate bid to keep your toddler from having a full-on meltdown, only to find several sconces on display but none, alas, in boxes. You paused when you heard a familiar beep, beep, beep and shouted, a little too enthusiastically, “It’s a forklift!” which amused your son for about five seconds before he started getting agitated again, at which point you magically produced yet another snack from your purse—this time Cheddar Bunnies (which are basically Goldfish except for the fact that they are made with “all-natural” ingredients and also the fact that they are shaped like bunnies). But no sooner did you hand the crinkly foil bag to your son, warning him to be careful not to spill it, than he turned the thing upside down, dumping every last Cheddar Bunny onto the floor beneath the cart.
So then you bent down and began frantically scooping up the spilled Cheddar Bunnies, wondering for a long moment whether you should just let the kid eat them even though they were just on the floor of The Home Depot. But eventually you stuffed the soiled Bunnies into your coat pocket and pushed onward, back toward the lighting section, and on the way you encountered not one but two Home Depot employees who could not tell you exactly where the bathroom sconces were, but you somehow found them anyway, and you managed to pick out a fairly inexpensive and not totally hideous one in spite of the cries of the small person in the cart who was still heartbroken over the loss of his “cheddy bunnies.”
I doubt that Theo will remember that particular trip to Home Depot. But I hope he remembers the scene that followed later, at home, when he helped me swap out the old doorknobs for the new ones, and how, when I finished screwing the first one into place, he smiled and shouted, “Mommy did it!”
(Postscript: When I was searching the internets for images to use in this post, I entered the phrase “woman with power drill” and then cringed as I waited to see what Google would produce. The first image that popped up was, unsurprisingly, a sexy lady posing with a drill and wearing a hard hat but no shirt. When I searched “woman with buzz saw,” the first three images were of a woman in short-shorts and stilettos bending over a buzz saw, the fifth image was of a woman being cut in half by a buzz saw, and the ninth image was of a topless woman getting cut in half by a buzz saw. So there you have it.)