Bribery. Good parents would NEVER bribe their children, right?
Who can say? There is no way to contact these Bribery-Free Good Parents. They are all very busy explaining to Toddlers why the Good Parents need at least one hand and a small amount of quiet in order to make a phone call oh never mind the office closed hours ago.
Child Bribery is the reason banks have lollipops. Without lollipops, banks are basically the most boring place on earth. WITH lollipops, banks are a super fun treat.
Child Bribery is the reason that popsicles EXIST. I make popsicles so I can say, ‘hey, do you want a popsicle’ and Babystar will say ‘obviously’ and I have about four minutes to load the dishwasher or change my tampon unassisted or make a dentist appointment.
I don’t know what I will offer when she starts refusing popsicles. Twenty dollar bills?
Whatever works, y’all.
But here’s the thing. Or, at least, here is the thing that I tell myself but is probably not true at all because Toddlers are wily af. Babystar has no clue that she is being bribed. She just thinks mommy is really nice and sometimes gives her popsicles along with a little personal space to eat them and drip them on the floor if that is her choice.
Boom. Mom of the year.
We have spent
the last six years a few weeks this summer at various stores shopping for the Teenager’s dorm furnishings. (In case you don’t know, The Teenager likes everything to be just so. Dorm shopping involved a lot of Pinning and Browsing and comparison shopping and returning things and buying other things and returning THOSE things and buying other things.)
Babystar loves her sister and she loves going bye-bye (mostly) but everyone has limits. And of course she wants to touch everything in Home Goods and RUN SO FAST through Target’s aisles because duh. She is also learning sequences, and she responds really well to ‘first this, then this’. I can say first we change your diaper, then we go to the park. Or first lunch, then diaper, then park. So I always made the third thing fun. First we return sheets at Target, then we buy hangers at Home Goods, then we go to the splash park. First we get dorm snacks at Trader Joe’s, then we buy storage bins at Target, then we have a picnic with the airplanes. First Ikea, then Target (ALWAYS Target), then we can pick out a toy at Home Goods (while the Teenager decides on the absolutely perfect throw pillow).
Home Goods has the BEST toys, y’all. They almost always have discounted Melissa & Doug toys. And Green Toys. And books. There is only one small Toy Aisle so Babystar’s choices are limited (good) but the inventory is constantly changing so it is a new toy store every time (better). I am a huge fan.
During my three desperate ‘you can pick any toy’ days, I was pretty willing to buy whichever toy she chose. The most expensive thing there is usually still under thirty bucks.
The first Toy Bribe Day, Babystar chose Green Toys Sports Boats. There were two on the shelf; one was blue and one was orange. And they both had cool Duck Captains. Babystar could not choose a color, so I bought both. They were $5.99 each, and they are normally $11.99, so one was basically free, right? Isn’t that how math works? (I know. Shhh.) She loves them and plays with them every night during her bath.
The next Toy Bribe Day, Babystar chose a Melissa & Doug felt food sandwich set ($12.99). It is pretty sweet. Pretend food is apparently ALL THE RAGE in Babystar’s world right now. (I eat fake corn and take bites of fake ketchup several times a day.) So it is really strange to me that she has not even asked about the sandwich set since we brought it home. It is sitting in the top of her closet waiting for a rainy day (proverbial or actual) or perhaps Christmas.
The last Toy Bribe Day of the Dorm Shopping Extravaganza, Babystar chose a small pack of wooden blocks ($3.00). These blocks were on CLEARANCE at Home Goods. Home Goods prices are already basically clearance prices. I was very excited about the wooden blocks. I was mostly excited about the fact that they only cost three dollars.
The blocks are meant to be a little town or something but Babystar loves to build a TOWER SO TALL TO THE SKY so she plays with them a bit different than intended. (Whatever; her blocks, her tower, her life.)
And oh yeah, we all got pedicures before taking the Teenager to college. Babystar’s blue toes cost $10.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $20,564.60
MAYDAY MAYDAY: Do you use Child Bribery to make your life easier? What form? Does it work? (I’m clearly soliciting new plans, if you couldn’t tell.)
I have decided not to consider or ‘subtract’ the child tax credit because that is waaaay too much math. (Since it’s not a straight deduction from our tax bill — or is it? I don’t even understand it really.) Also, any tax credit credit IN NO WAY covers the cost of raising a child. And definitely not this privileged little middle-class Babystar in our privileged pocket of America. But mostly because we literally never get a tax return. We always always always have to pay. How much or how little depends on the year, but there is no refund headed our way.
So that is why. If you were wondering.
Also regarding taxes: Sometimes I add in the sales tax when adding up Babystar’s total and sometimes I don’t. Quite honestly, it really depends on how easy it is to add the tax to the total. I save receipts, and I have a giant list on my phone of what we purchase for Babystar. If it is an Abby’s Lane email receipt for a Babystar purchase, I’ll add the total including tax. If it is a Target receipt with a bunch of other non-Babystar items, I’m not adding the sales tax. (I am definitely not asking the cashier to ring Babystar’s items separately so I can be more accurate, like I would if this bloggy experiment were an actual job. But now that I type this, maybe I should. It would definitely make my receipt pile smaller and more accurate.)
Just if you were wondering.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $16,003.94
I used to love Thanksgiving, back in the last millennium when I was but a wee little one. Thanksgiving meant a break from school, lots of cousins, and extra desserts. It was the beginning of the holiday season. My dad had a big family all close together, so I remember folding tables for MILES that stretched through doorways into adjoining rooms. We kids were running and tumbling everywhere, or more often banished upstairs or outside (depending on the weather), where we got into all kinds of mischief. Ouija boards and naked Barbie dolls feature prominently in my childhood memories.
But now. Everyone has moved away or passed away or simply doesn’t hang out together anymore. My husband is an only child. I live pretty far from most of my family. Air travel is so damn expensive this week. We used to have a LOVELY lonely Hard Candy Christmas type of Thanksgiving with just us and the cats, with the two older children at their dad’s house and the Babystar not yet existing. WHY does having a baby come with certain holiday expectations? My in-laws moved to Myrtle Beach about five minutes before I got pregnant with Babystar (or I doubt they would have made the move). And so we tortured the teenager and the toddler on Interstate 95 last week.
I despise I-95. Fuck that road. The actual visit was lovely, though.
We did break up the trip on the way down because the baby cannot stand more than five hours in the car. Total, all day. After that begins the screamy times. Also, it cannot be dark. Also, someone must hold her hand at all times. Also, people must be singing. People she actually KNOWS, not people from the radio. Dance music isn’t fun unless we can actually dance. DUH, MOM.
So anyway, that $136.53 at the Hampton Inn is on Babystar’s tab. We could have driven straight through without her along.
Once we arrived, Myrtle Beach was a whirlwind of food and shopping. I wasn’t mad at all. My MIL is a very good cook, even though she always pretends not to be very hungry while she passing me the gravy. Or the butter. Or the cupcakes and ice cream with peanut butter cups on top. Of both.
And that woman is FIRE at the mall. Do you remember that episode of Gilmore Girls where Lorelei and Rory run into Emily at the mall and everyone there knows her? And they know all about Lorelei and Rory too, just by association? It was like that, if Emily Gilmore was much nicer. The teenager and I just watched in awe. I am not even kidding. The dude at the Cinnabon kiosk had her coffee ready when she walked by. One lady at a department store recognized her immediately and told her all about the sales on the ceramic pumpkins that she has had her eye on for two months. A lady in the shoe department knew that the Teenager was a gymnast without being told, and had been thinking about the perfect boots for her since before the Teenager even knew that she was getting boots. A different lady at a different department store gave me hella free samples including actual travel sizes with my Kiehl’s purchase because I was with
Emily Gilmore my MIL. I straight up asked her (out of MIL’s hearing) if she was being so nice because I was with MIL, and she looked me straight in the eyes, smiled, and gave a single nod. I buy Kiehl’s at home all the time and they maybe give me two samples of lotion. If I ask nicely.
We did pop out to the outlets once on our own and while the Teenager and I were standing in line, my sweet husband distracted the baby by going to look at the ‘dogs’ at the weird outlet mall kiosk. $13 later, we owned one of those yippy beasts.
We also took a walk one day and found ourselves at a playground and then at Barnes & Noble where we spent way too much time (and money) in the children’s section. We brought home three board books and one story book for $45.32. Yes, they probably would have been less on Amazon, but it feels good to support a brick & mortar book store. I never would have said that about a chain bookstore even ten years ago, but now even the chains are dying. RIP Borders.
Another day, we went down to the boardwalk for a bit. The sand was cold but the ocean was beautiful. We watched the sun set and then Babystar got excited about all the lights. She had fun running around the arcades pushing blinking buttons and getting some wiggles out. And I bought her a $5 piece of crap light up thingy that she IMMEDIATELY bashed against the boardwalk until it broke. It still lit up for another two hours or so. It is in the trash now.
The WORST part of the trip was that it would have been considered rude to binge watch the new Gilmore Girls and the Teenager is so busy during the school week and we will have to wait over a week to see what is up with Rory and Lorelei. We have cleared Sunday evening’s schedule and now I just have to avoid spoilers. I’m scared, y’all. I might google in a moment of weakness. Like a 4am insomnia moment of weakness. Please keep me in your prayers.
The ride home was straight through, though broken up by fast food play places and one actual restaurant. We had snacks from South Carolina and the food on our plates and the ever present mama milk so the only cost to feed her was the $3 cookie I bought her at the fancy grown-up restaurant to eat while we ate our actual dinner. Judge me, I don’t care. I was hungry and desperate. I do not recommend this at all but it TOTALLY works in an actual meltdown-avoidance-emergency.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,485.59
The other day after a fun hour or so at Busy Bees ($15 but we also went today so $30 total), we popped into Target for granola bars. (We eat a LOT of granola bars in our house and they are cheapest in the big box at Target. Well, they are REALLY cheap in the giant box at Costco, but the teenagers won’t eat the peanut butter flavored ones so it’s not really a good deal after all because I don’t want to eat thirty peanut butter flavored granola bars. Ever, really, but certainly not every month. I digress.)
I found the cutest holiday outfit for Babystar and I did not buy it. Repeat: I WENT TO TARGET AND DID NOT BUY ANY BABY CLOTHES.
You guys, it had stars (mandatory), sparkle, and it was not a dress! Perfection with matching shoes! AND I DID NOT BUY THIS.
The outfit was $16.99 and the shoes were $22.99 but you know what? She already has a perfectly fine holiday outfit — the same one that she wore for her dedication. It’s a dress, but she will live. I don’t need to spend $40 for a new outfit. That’s not to say that I won’t
crack change my mind and buy it later. Especially if it goes on sale. But for now: RESTRAINT. I bought my granola bars and went home.
And then the very next day? I went into Carter’s to return the extra Halloween costumes that I had stressbought (which should be a word) and once again I had so much restraint! Ok, so I did exchange the Halloween items instead of return them. I traded them for a five-pack of onesies, size 24 months, and a very cute long sleeve shirt. Babystar only had two onesies that fit and I like to layer in the winter. And just look at this long sleeve t-shirt. Everything was on sale and I only owed $1.28 at the register. Not bad. RESTRAINT.
I don’t know what has gotten in to me. Or yes, I do. I have watched this adorable human grow out of season after season of clothes. I have given away items that I know she never wore — or only wore a couple of times. I have watched that number at the bottom of each post creep higher and higher and it is downright terrifying.
And I have another theory. I am finally getting enough sleep. My brain is more able to function properly. (Sort of. I still forget where I am going on the way to the park. And I kind of already forgot my point.) But sometimes, when the planets are aligned properly, I can use my deductive reasoning skills and my common sense and all of the other cool smart lady traits I know I still possess (somewhere) and stop BUYING ALL OF THE STUFF for this small creature that will wear the same clothes every day and not care at all and only wants to play with tampon boxes and the mixing bowls anyway.
Anyone else ever have a similar epiphany?
RAISING BABYSTAR: $13,266.46
FURTHER RESTRAINT: I am not blogging every day per the NaBloPoMo guidelines. I don’t really have that much to talk about and I hate spam. Many of you doing NaBloPoMo are killing it. Good for you. I like following along. I am not killing it. And I am sort of fine with that.
Granny and Grampy (the in-laws) were in town last weekend and they wanted to take Babystar shopping for things that she NEEDS. I anticipated this because I am excellent at seeing the future and because they do this every time (AND because they kept reminding me) so I thought Stride Rite seemed the perfect destination.
Babystar got new Mary Janes because her current favorite shoes are about to not fit anymore (and I have no idea where to buy them). And she also got some fuzzy-inside, comfy winter boots because it gets cold here in Northern Virginia. So that was wonderful and very helpful. And Babystar even got a few stickers. Luckily, Stride Rite made sure she knew which stickers were appropriate for a little girl via the tried-and-true color coding system. And luckily my baby don’t give a fuuuuck. You already know we came home with Star Wars AND Sesame Street WHAAAAAAAAAT.
Have you ever been to Tyson’s Corner Mall? If you live in or near Northern Virginia, the answer is probably yes. Do you know what store is right next door to Stride Rite? If you said the American Girl store, you win. Guess what you win? You get to give ME $100.
I have already gone on record about the American Girl store. But I’m not even mad. Here’s how it went down. Babystar raced into the red and pink wonderland so Grammy and I followed.
Babystar headed straight for the ‘babies’ like they were calling her name and singing her favorite songs and I’m not convinced that they weren’t. And of course the ‘babies’ are on REALLY LOW shelves, right? So here is Babystar manipulating Grammy into bringing a Bitty Baby home with us.
So effective, right? I almost want to buy her one and I DEFINITELY DO NOT want to buy her one.
Of course it worked. She even got an extra outfit because she said ‘kitty’ and pointed to an outfit with a cat on it. (Yes, she knows the word kitty and I am very proud but am I more proud of her vocabulary or her clear ability to control her world around her? I’m not sure yet.)
She immediately has to show Grampy who is waiting on the bench outside because he is smart. And she is smart.
And then be ALL CUTE about it. Jeez, ok, that little pose is worth $60, I guess. Suckers.
And here I imagine her thinking, mama, give me the camera. This is none of your business.
The lovely, thoughtful, well-meaning grandparents also bought her three pairs of maxaloones from etsy because I wanted her to have pants that will fit over her cloth diapers and hopefully last an entire season. I let Grammy pick (but I only showed her cute ones to choose from) and I’m excited for them to arrive in the mail!
RAISING BABYSTAR: $12,790.51
Let’s be honest. The happiest place in Potomac Mills is probably the Sephora inside the JC Penney. Just kidding — it’s the Haagen Dazs counter. But we went to the Disney Store and Disney spent all that money reminding the world that they are the Happiest Place on Earth Registered Trademark so let’s just go with it.
We were shopping Teenager Summer Beach clothes and not even in the market for anything Babystar-related. But they were having a Clearance sale. So we bought a few things that will fit her someday.
We also bought some cool vintage-looking melamine plates for about a dollar each. They are eight bucks each online right now! I’ll let Babystar use them for tea parties but they are totally mine.
RAISING BABYSTAR: $7,528.78