It appears in front of me once again. Filled to the brim with the oddest assortment of ‘stuff’. Cornmeal, yogurt in little pouches, 2 pints of chocolate milk, and a 1/2 bag of carrots! Yesterday it was a canister of rolled oats, a jar of peanut butter, a bottle of pancake syrup, a canister of chocolate bars, and a box of rice. Last week it contained a box of aluminum foil, squeeze bottle of mustard, a box of macaroni, a loaf of bread and a can of peas.
When Levi was just beginning to walk, he went with me to The Dollar General store. There was a plastic grocery cart that he immediately latched onto. He was in heaven! He pushed that little cart for all he was worth…filling it with various things that were within his reach. When time came to go, he was heartbroken over having to leave that cart in the store. I’ve never seen him before or since carry on about wanting something so bad. In fact, I felt so bad for breaking his little heart, that when he left to go home, I went back to the store and bought him one. In a box. Brand new. It was very cheaply made…I hoped it would last. If not, I could buy a well made one from the toy store.
I wanted to put it together, so he would see it when he came the next day. There it was…purple basket, orange undercarriage, and turquoise wheels! All the parts were there and soon it was together! I could hardly wait for him to see it and push it and gather things in it! I could just imagine the look on his face. And, him coming to me and saying, “Lulu, you are the best! Thank you for this wonderful cart. Thank you for giving me my heart’s desire! I will love you forever!” Well, it wouldn’t sound like that, because he couldn’t talk then, but I would be able to read the emotion behind his eyes! I set it in the middle of the studio and waited for the next morning.
He came in the door and gave me a big hug as always. Then into the studio he went. He saw the cart and went straight to it. Not a word was spoken. He took it by the handle and began to push…all the way around the table. Then he began to fill it up…little cars, colorful blocks, books, balls. He pushed them around a few times then took them out and refilled it. Still not a sound.
However, the next sound I heard was plenty loud enough! It was a cry of despair. I looked up quickly and there he was…and there was the cart. But, the cart was now in 3 pieces! He was heart broken. I rushed to see what I could do. Nothing was broken…pieces would just not fit together anymore. What was supposed to fit inside of another piece was either too big or too small. I’m guessing it was fine until he put too much in it and then it collapsed. I told him I would get him another one. He cried louder. And louder.
And, so, being the resourceful Lulu that I am, I got out the duct tape. That will fix anything. Unfortunately, all I happened to have was a roll that had a big checkerboard design on it. Not to worry, it would hold it together long enough for me to get a new cart.
I taped for a while and he waited and watched. And, soon he was on his way again. Happily filling it up with strange pairings of objects, taking them for a spin around the studio, and putting them back.
He was barely two when that cart came to live at our house. He has pushed it every. single. day. After the duct tape surgery, it has held up remarkably well. Never even offering to come apart again. It has carried small loads and big loads. It has carried items that make sense being carried and those that don’t. It has waited patiently for a little boy’s whims to hit and has been ready to partner with him in his escapades.
About a year ago, he began grocery shopping. Because the shelves in my pantry go to the floor…and his legs have gotten longer…he can imagine he’s in a real grocery store. And, he goes grocery shopping every day he’s at my house. I am the grocery clerk, of course. And he is the shopper. He says I have to welcome him to the store. Then after his shopping, I ask him if he found all he needed. He always does. Then we check him out, he uses his credit card, and I bag the groceries. Then I remind him to drive safely and remember to put all the groceries away in the pantry when he gets home. You know…he always does, too. Well, they’re in the pantry…not always on the right shelf. (Can you spy his credit card in the cart? An old motel key card works great!)
And, the grocery cart…held together with duct tape…will then sit quietly until the mood to shop strike again. Or until Olaf, and Mickey Mouse, and the orange frog get ready to go for a ride. Or until his 5043 little cars decide they want to race in the den. It is probably the thing he plays with more often than anything else he has! I have never been able to bring myself to get a new one. That sad little cart has become a fixture in our play. And, we both love it…just as it is.
We don’t need to be the prettiest or fanciest to get the job done.
Broken things have their own beauty.
“Lulu, you are the best! Thank you for this wonderful cart. Thank you for giving me my heart’s desire! I will love you forever!”
I could never say it better than (he) did!
I Swannee, Girl, if you don't just beat all the Grandmas in the world for smarts and ideas and ways to make the chillun happy. That is just the sweetest Lulu story of all, i think, encompassing a little child's imagination and happiness and love for things and people, and your own love for him and all your family in every word.
I've missed you SO MUCH!! I look down my sidebar every day to see if you've posted, for you know you were almost the very first person I met when i came into this blog-world, all because of our blog titles. Your plain old out-and-abouts are simply charming and interesting and fun, with such a panoply of characters and personalities and events—I just go back and get me a Tonja story or two now and then, just to smile or say AWWWW.
Your Levi is getting to be such a grown-up young man, I know—our Sweetpea is EIGHT now, and will be here in an hour while her Mommy has the afternoon out. She spent the day yesterday, too, and we had such a lovely day of out and in, having our lunch out on the patio in the noon sun (though it DID necessitate long pants and her Tinkerbell blanket around her shoulders).
Today, we're going to paint the letters on my kitchen sign, she and I. They gave me a little placque for my birthday that says MY KITCHEN IS FOR DANCING in white letters on a lovely dove-gray background. We're gonna take our nice narrow paintbrushes and those leftover cans of two-shades-of-pink from the walls, and make those letters DANCE.
And just so you know about that snazzy shopping cart: That's not just checkered duct tape. Those are RACIN' FLAGS!! (NOW AREN'T YOU KEWL??!)
Some of the items my grandsons play with often are $ store finds or boxes!