When my older son was just an infant, a friend bought him a miniature red wagon (the idea being to place it decoratively on a shelf and perhaps stock it with a pair of tiny stuffed animals). It was precious beyond words. And thus began my infatuation with wagons.
When Tall was about eight months old, I remember being at the local toy store and inspecting iconic Radio Flyer wagons. I desperately wanted to buy one for my young son. I had an idyllic magazine-cover vision of us cheerfully lumbering along together, me being that cute mom who pulls her baby in the wagon to the farmer’s market on Sundays. The Husband dutifully had his credit card at the ready, but then I hesitated.
“You know,” I began tentatively, “he could fall out.”
“Babies don’t fall out of wagons,” he countered.
“Sure they do, all the time! I don’t want him to wiggle out when I’m not looking, fall on his fragile little head, and then all of sudden we’re at the ER with a brain-damaged baby.”
The Husband did what he always did when I was being completely irrational: he quickly put his wallet back in his pocket, and thanked his lucky stars that he just saved $120.
A year later, we were at a different toy store looking at the same wagon. My farmer’s market fantasy now starred a highly-mobile toddler instead of a docile baby.
“There’s that wagon you always talk about,” pointed out The Husband helpfully, as Tall knocked over a cantilevered display of Lincoln Log houses, “do you still want to buy it?”
“Yes. Absolutely. They’re so cute! Why didn’t we ever buy one before?” I asked, as my mommy-mush-brain forgot my valid reasons for avoiding the death-trap wagons.
“I think you said he might fall out.”
On cue, Tall climbed in the wagon and then, Houdini-style, expertly maneuvered back out.
“No, Tall, no! If we buy this wagon, you have to stay put.” I used my best stern mommy-tone to imply that I was serious.
He immediately started crying. Loudly. Other shoppers five aisles over craned their heads around to get a better look at the mean mother who refused to buy her adorable toddler the Divine Right of Childhood: a wagon.
“I’ll take him to the car,” The Husband uttered through clenched teeth as he scooped up our kicking toddler. “Here,” he said, handing his black leather wallet to me, “Buy it. Don’t buy it. Whatever. It’s your call.”
I hated when things were “my call.” Everything was my call: what kind of diapers, what kind of shoes, when to put Tall down for a nap, what kind of formula to buy, whether he should wear a sweater or not. I was hoping to have some vestige of input on the whole wagon thing.
Once again, I left the store wagonless, rationalizing that, indeed, we should wait another year.
Then Short was born. No way was I putting a defenseless newborn in a wagon with a jealous two-and-a-half year.
Another year flew by. My window of opportunity was shrinking. If I didn’t do something fast, I was not going to be the cute mom at the farmer’s market with the two boys in a wagon.
“Maybe we should get the boys a wagon?” I asked The Husband a week before Christmas.
“Don’t they already have one?” he asked back, proving once again that he does not have any grasp of how many or how few possessions we own.
“Are you sure? Do you want me to look in the garage?”
“I’m telling you they don’t have a wagon!”
“Huh. That’s funny. I thought they did. Hmm.”
“Well?” I put my hands in the air in a gesture of what-do-you-want-to-do.
“Your call,” he offered predictably.
The next day, I had planned to drive to the toy store. It started to snow. I couldn’t see the point of having a wagon in the snow. I decided to wait.
Fast forward to now. Tall is seven, and Short is four. The benevolent Easter Bunny surprised our sons with a large red wagon at our front door in April. The boys giggled, then quickly filled the wagon with all their toy trucks and cars. They pushed the whole ensemble around the back patio a few times. The wagon remains there, laced in intricate cobwebs.
We went to the farmer’s market the other day. I saw a mommy pulling two little boys in a wagon. I could swear it was me.