Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I'm sure you are shocked to learn that Theo has a multitude of small toy cars, the Matchbox and Hot Wheels types that he clutches in each hand as I strap him into his car seat. They're all different, of course - the orange loader, the yellow fire truck, the silver VW Bug convertible - and he has his favorites. I think we've actually purchased just two or three of them (the double-decker London bus, the bright green SMART car) and the rest he has received from visiting grandmas or kind neighbors. Remarkably, we did a good job of keeping track of all of them. I kept the blue hatchback in my purse and the orange construction vehicle in the diaper bag. Even with all the traveling we did, we never, to my knowledge, left a school bus or a tractor in a hotel room or an airport. Until recently.

The moment we arrived on American soil, those cars sprouted free will (Christine!) and drove off on their own, disappearing one by one only to be replaced by even more, or reappearing a few days later in a different part of town. I still have cars in my purse and in the diaper bag and all over the floor, but I don't know which one is where anymore. We leave Nana's house with extra cars and abandon different ones on the next visit. I try to pay attention, to make sure we're not taking away what isn't ours or orphaning our toys, but it's a losing battle. Fortunately Theo just grabs whichever vehicle he stumbles across or is handed to him and plays happily, appreciating the bounty, playing no favorites. I've all but given up the fight.

I realized today that I feel like that about my whole life these days. Things in Germany, while not perfect, at least felt under control. Our little family had forged a self-contained routine. We went to the grocery store on Saturdays, we watched soccer on Sundays, we walked to the park when the weather was nice and stayed inside for days when it snowed. We webcammed with the grandparents on weekend evenings and checked in with the rest of our friends and family on email. Sometimes Theo and I went to a little playgroup, and that was a big outing. I didn't even keep a calendar.

But here, we're just overwhelmed with the possibilities. We could be unpacking boxes or calling the furnace company or going to the children's museum or going to Target like I dreamed for three years straight. People are inviting us places! I have a date book with things written in it! It's thrilling and sort of crazy, like having a whole new wardrobe and wanting to wear it all at once. But when we have a week like we've just survived - all three of us sick in bed for at least one day each - it makes me feel buried, like I can't breathe, like I will never see all the people or open all the boxes or watch all the shows that my new DVR is suddenly recording on its own because I don't have time to figure out how to program it.

Theo has a little playroom here in our splendid new home, a place for all his toys and balls and books and cars cars cars. Lately, when I suggest that he go in there and check out the new train table we got on Craigslist or stack up some blocks or drive one of those piles of tiny cars around the carpet, he gets teary and says "No toys! No toys!" And even though it seems ridiculous for either one of us to complain about all this good stuff, I understand just how he feels.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Things will settle into a familiar routine soon enough. I remember moving into my house, seeing the same stack of papers left by similarly kind former owners, and immediately thinking "Oh, God - I'm responsible for all of this stuff now."

And on top of that, while we were closing on the house we were also planning our wedding. It was a casino wedding (no, Elvis did not officiate), so it wasn't quite as hectic as a full-blown affair, but coupled with buying the house it was a pretty stressful time. Our wedding night was our first in the house, which sounds very romantic (and in truth it was), but it was scary as hell at the same time.

My daughters are into the Monster truck Matchbox cars. But Syd won't let Evie play with any of them, even Evie's own. She makes me play with them. With nothing but girls, I'll take what I can get, which in this case is the chance to play with The Destroyer.