Monday, July 28, 2008

Sticker shock

There is this heinous terrible thing that happens to families called a sticker letter. The idea is you get a letter with two kids’ names on it, the top one you’ve never heard of, and the bottom one you know. What you’re supposed to do is send a pack of stickers to the top kid, then send a copy of the letter with the bottom kid’s name replacing the top kid’s, and your kid’s name replacing the bottom kid’s, to six friends. “Don’t break the chain!” “Your child will get 36 packs of stickers in a couple of weeks!”
I don’t want 36 packs of stickers. I don’t want to obligate 6 friends into participating in this sticker circus. But the person who asked me is someone I like, and she asked so sweetly… okay.

So I put this off for easily a month – way beyond the obligatory week the letter demands. And I figured a way around it. I will send my required stickers to the kid on the top of the list, then I will buy six packs of stickers, send them to six friends of mine with the name and address of the 2nd kid on the list, along with a stamp, and the instructions to please put the stickers in a new envelope and stamp it and address it to this kid. And I’ll take Thing 2 sticker shopping with me when I go and let her pick out a couple of packs for herself, and everyone’s happy.

Well, Thing 2 went over to the neighbor’s, and I thought I’d save myself a stamp, and just run one sticker filled envelope to the neighbor and ask them to address it in their handwriting. The husband was home. He was completely baffled at this whole prospect, asked why didn’t I just tell this woman no, and while he couldn’t turn me down at the request of just writing the girl’s name and address on the envelope for me, he refused to put his return address on it and acted like I was trying to involve him in something really unsavory. Now that I think about it, I vaguely remember his wife refusing to participate a couple of years ago when I got another one of these horrible letters.

Anyway, I felt awful for asking in the first place, but there I was. Then, if that wasn’t bad enough, when Thing 1 went over to the neighbor’s, she took a handful of Little Pet Shop animals and put them in a Ziploc to take with her. I suspect that some of these were Little Shops that Thing 2 got for her birthday that she told Thing 1 she could play with. I stopped Thing 1 before she left and told her taking these over there was a bad idea, unless she wasn’t going to be upset about leaving some of them. I went so far as to write on the side of the bag the number of Pet Shops in it. When I went to pick the girls up, Thing 1 ran up to me and handed me the bag. Sure enough, there was one missing. It was probably a mistake to do so after the fiasco with the chain letter, but instead of waiting until we got home, I pointed it out her missing Pet Shop there. I told her that the neighbor girl is a fabulous person and if she was going to leave one at anyone’s house, this neighbor was a good choice, but I didn’t want to hear her complain later that she was missing one. She and the neighbor looked for it again, and eventually found it, but I suppose it made me look like a fool to the neighbors. Little Neighbor girl may never come over to play again. I know I’m going to encourage Thing 2 more stridently to invite the neighbor over here. And there is a new rule that the only toys you take to someone’s house are ones you’ll give them.

Thing 1 has also started this tendency of being outrageously easily embarrassed. She knocked her finger on a hoola-hoop at the neighbor’s, and ran out of the back yard crying, “This is embarrassing!” Everyone just sort of blinks confusedly after her. She’s done this before, if she gets hurt she runs off before anyone can see her cry. When I came home and tried to see what happened, she screams at me from behind her door to go away and not to talk to her. She tells me that a lot, usually when I’m trying to get to the bottom of something. But also, as happened tonight, she’ll come into the room whimpering “Ohhh… it hurts!” and if I say “What happened?” or “What is it?” she barks at me that she doesn’t know and to stop talking to her. Which, I can say freely, is not very endearing.

Of course for every ounce of crabbiness and irrationality that Thing 1 can muster, Thing 2 becomes equally overly pleasant and enthusiastic. She is syrupy sweet and everything is the best ever, and it pisses Thing 1 off even more and Thing 1 starts to shout at her to stop being so happy! I’ve got bi-polar disorder in the house, Thing 1 on the sad and angry end of the scale, and Thing 2 on the manically happy end of the scale.

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