Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's Day and My Boycott of REI

Oh REI, why do you disappoint me so? Where else is a person supposed to go looking for a Father's Day gift on the day before?

My own father is easy: he doesn't want anything. And not in a grouchy sort of "Don't get me anything!" way, he truly wants for nothing. He lives simply and I know he would not want me to buy him a token gift just because of the holiday. He knows that I love and respect him. We don't need a necktie to prove that.

Brent, on the other hand, NEEDS a Father's Day gift. Not because he's materialistic or anything like that, but because he has been the stay-at-home-dad extraordinaire for the past ten months, taking the kids to the park, making crafts, baking cookies, building forts on rainy days, reading library books, wiping butts and noses, and doing all of the other glorious things that come with taking care of small children. The man has earned a Father's Day gift.

So the boys and I set off on an epic adventure in Father's Day gift shopping. Let me preface this by saying that Brent is hard to shop for. He has very particular tastes. Okay, so undaunted by that fact (and with naive optimism) I dragged the kids to REI on Saturday. It all started to go south when I realized that I can no longer put Sawyer into the Ergo on my back without help. He's too wiggly. So I had to flag down a complete stranger to help me get him into the proper restraints (for the record it was a harmless looking complete stranger) so we could enter the store. It's a tricky thing, getting these two kids in and out of REI because although I'm sure the store designers expend a lot of their talents to create these mini camping displays, the place is like an obstacle course for parents with young children. I don't want to play hide-and-seek with Sawyer as he ransacks the place, pulling sleeping bags off the walls and taking refuge in one of the many tents. And those stairs! Don't even get me started on the stairs!

I make it into the store. Jack is momentarily distracted by the sparkly pink bikes. I foolishly promise to buy him something if he follows me up the stairs (further proof of my bad parenting, folks). I had the foresight to pack along some items of Brent's clothing in my purse so that I could make sure I was getting the right sizes. I know, genius, right? We approach a display table of t-shirts and Jack immediately starts rifling through them, finding the most obnoxious non-Brent shirt possible and exclaiming that this was "the one".

I should have just bought the shirt right then and there and made my escape.

But no, I keep on looking and pulling Brent's clothes out of my gigantic purse to compare sizes, as Sawyer turned into octopus baby and started pulling down display racks from his perch on my back. Jack decided to try on some flip flops and was clomping around like he was in some sort of one man three legged race. Some salespeople approached me and asked if I needed any assistance. It probably looked like I was shoplifting and that these two small lunatics were my clever diversion. Which I'm now thinking would probably really work if I ever decide to quit my day job and lead a life of crime. Anyway, I smiled at the two twenty-something REI employees and asked if they had a padded room I could lock the children in while I did some shopping. They looked at each other, gave me a charitable smile, and walked away.

About two minutes later I was approached by, shall we say, a more "seasoned" REI employee who wanted to know if I needed any help. At this point I realize that "Do you need any help?" must be REI speak for get-this-crazy-lady-and-her-kids-out-of-our-store-before-they-scare-away-the-childless-customers.

So I bought a water bottle for Jack and left. That was my Father's Day shopping attempt. We did go to another store on the way home, but really, it was just more of the same so I'll spare you the details. This time there was an unruly shopping cart involved. I'm sure you can imagine.

But! I told you that Brent is a man who deserves some serious Father's Day recognition, and recognized he was. We let him sleep in (well, we tried to. I'm still not sure why Jack thought it would be okay to ring the doorbell at 7am), and woke him up with a song, a homemade card, and a waffle breakfast. One quick note about the waffles- I tried making yeast waffles this time, the kind where you make the batter the night before and let it rise. I'm not sure what went wrong, but they were weird and kind of gross and I'm not sure why we ate them. From now on I'll stick to WIGS (Waffles of Insane Greatness). Try them- they are insanely great.

Here is a transcript of Jack's Father's Day gift to Brent (this was written inside the card):

A Father's Day Interview with Jack 2010

What is your dad's name?


What does he look like?

He has black hair, long legs, and big stinky feet (!! For the record, Brent's feet are neither big nor stinky. In fact, Brent is a former foot model who has the nicest manfeet I have ever seen.)

How old is he?

I don't know. Three?

What does he like to do?

He likes to dump composts and he likes blue things

What does he like to eat?

He likes pizza and peas and corn and string cheese (these are all Jack's favorites)

What does he like to drink?

Water and coffee (what? no beer?)

What does he like to do with you?

He helps me draw things and we do glue sticks

What is the best thing about your dad?

I like to play with him and fly with him

Does your dad take you places?

He takes me to Home Depot and to school

Would you trade him for a different dad?


What do you think he would like for Father's Day?

How 'bout a candle with his name on it?

A candle with is name on it? I can do that! Clearly Jack is the genius here. Now we know what to get him for next year.

Coolest dad ever, am I right?

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