Saturday, April 18, 2009

Love, Marriage, and a Baby Carriage

I was stupid.

Stupid and young. Too young to grasp how stupid I really was.

I was barely 22 when Brett and I got married. I knew next to nothing about setting up housekeeping.

After all, I grew up in a home where microwave dinners were normal fare for just about every meal. As far as I knew, all we needed to register for were cups and silverware (both of which I knew could also be purchased in the plastic variety, if necessary).

When we went to Kohl’s to register, I failed to notice the excited gleam in my intended’s eye as the salesgirl handed him the scanner, which he referred to as “the gun.” At the time, I thought his insistence on handling all the scanning was a sign of chivalry.

Little did I know.

I followed him around the store as he buzzed just about everything in sight. I found myself having to shout to get his attention to scan necessary things like plates, glasses, and crock pots. Instead, he was busy scanning crystal salad bowls, kabob holders, and fondue sets.

A fondue set? I knew the moment he scanned the little silver box that we would never use a fondue set. For one thing, we could barely boil water without burning ourselves. And he wanted to try scalding oil?

By the time we escaped from Kohl’s, Brett was suffering from “trigger finger;” we had over 500 items on our registry, and I had learned a handy lesson about my fiancé.

Brett is a Useless (or) Ugly Item Purchaser. UUIP, that’s him.

I don’t suppose it’s all that flattering to say that, considering he chose to marry me, but I consider myself the exception to his condition.

Over the years, Brett has kept up his reputation as a UUIP.

From the pink Christmas sweater vest he got me to the infamous Puffy Coat, he just has a knack for acquiring the tasteless and useless.

For years, he collected books he never read. I could never decide if he purchased them and never got around to reading them, or if he thought if he owned the books, people would assume he had read them.
All I know is that I was relieved greatly when he decided to donate the bulk of them to our Pastor’s library where we both knew they wouldn’t just be expensive dust catchers.

We’ve been married nearly nine years now. In that time, we’ve never opened our silver fondue set, the sterling kabob collection, or our crystal bowl set. We have, however, put our plates, glasses, and crock pot to good use.

I’m not saying I knew better.

Oh wait, yes I am.

I am eternally grateful to the people who purchased the necessary items from our registry and chose to ignore the ridiculous. Thank you.

Such went my one and only experience with registering.

For me, registering for my wedding and registering for my baby were two very different things.

First of all, I had lived in a house. I knew, at the bare minimum, what a family needs to keep in their cupboards.

When it comes to babies, however, I am completely clueless.

I was an only child, so I never had a younger sibling on which to practice. As a teenager, I limited by babysitting clients to “ages 5 and older,” so that was no help, either. After my one disastrous debacle in the nursery, I stayed far away from that end of the church.

As my friends had babies, I was able to fob off any uncomfortable activities, instead choosing to exclaim my adoring comments from across the room.

I don’t tell you these things to scare you, since I am adamantly looking forward to holding my own child. I am so incredibly excited to welcome Sam into our strange, Soderstrom world that, at times, I can barely contain my joy.

At least, so far - while I’m never completely confident in the future - I’m eagerly anticipating it.

I knew the time would come when I have to register for baby stuff. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. For one thing, I had no idea what babies need. I didn’t want to follow some salesperson around the store, scanning everything recommended.

So, I begged, pleaded, and cajoled Candice into being our baby stuff expert. I extracted a promise from her to help us register. And God bless her, she graciously agreed.

Still, I struggled with feelings of being overwhelmed any time I walked into Babies R Us. I kept putting off registering. I used work as an excuse. I told everybody I just wasn’t far enough along yet, and so on.
However, when both my pregnancy book and pregnancy website reminder kept asking “Are you registered yet?” I finally got the point.

I had Sam’s 25 week ultrasound coming up, so I decided to take the day off. Mom, Brett, and I would go to the ultrasound, and then meet Candice at Babies R Us to register.

The ultrasound went well, with the technician proclaiming Sam healthy and well into the 60th percentile for all his vital statistics. Sam also posed beautifully for the camera. The technician was able to capture his angelic face for three photos, and (of course) another money shot proving he is, indeed, of the male persuasion.

Afterwards, we trekked to Babies R Us. Mom and Candice gabbed in the corner while a salesperson took Brett and I through the current protocols for baby registering. It took nearly ten minutes for our learning session before she handed over “the gun.”

I should stop here and say that – while we’ve been in dire financial trouble – it’s been easier to curb Brett’s UUIP tendencies. After all Brett is the youngest, and I am an only; it’s not like either of us heard “no” very often.

In the days of milk and honey, I could only sigh at his UUIP’s habits as he purchased a label maker, industrial-size paper shredder, and police scanner.

For some reason, the purchase of the police scanner really got on my nerves. I don’t know if he thought he’d hear fascinating conversations or what, but other than severe weather reports, it’s like having the World’s Most Boring Conversation going on non-stop in your living room.



“Yeah, Bob. Car in the ditch off Elevator Road.”


Not quite an enthralling police drama.

However, as our checkbook has dwindled to double digits, it’s been easier to simply say, “Well, we can’t afford it.” And that’s that.

But, as the salesperson handed over the scanner, I saw the light go on in Brett’s head. For once, he could register for WHATEVER he wanted, and HE wouldn’t have to spend a cent. Other people might BUY it for HIM. This time, I fully recognized the gleam in his eye.

I gulped in anticipation and knew I was in for it.

Mom, Candice, and I started at one end of the store. As Candice explained the difference between the awesome variety of available bottles, my baby daddy slipped behind a display.
The three of us then heard a familiar beep-bop.

“What did you just scan?” Mom demanded, giving Brett the evil eye.

“Nothing,” the love of my life lied.

Mom rounded on the display and started reading off the items on the shelf. “Belly Bars?” “Pregnancy Tea?” “Ginger Ale?” all while Brett looked everywhere but at the three of us.

Eventually, I peeked around the display.

“He scanned the pregnancy pops. He likes the raspberry flavor,” I said simply. I know my husband.

Mom’s eyebrows flew up and just the slightest flush rushed my husband’s face. Candice vigorously pretended to study the baby bottles.

“We are registering for the BABY, not for you,” I hissed as a warning.

As we journeyed through the aisles, Candice gave valuable advice on everything from pacifiers to nursing pads. Mom weighed in on issues of style and taste, while I had to babysit Brett who would lag behind scanning random items.

At each unsanctioned beep-bop, Mom and I would exchange frustrated glances. Candice smartly stayed above it all, just smiled, and probably though inwardly, “Dear Lord, why did I agree to this?!”

We were in the stroller area, debating Chicco and Eddie Bauer, when we heard another beep-bop in the aisle behind us. I left Mom and Candice to hunt down Brett.

“What did you scan, NOW?” I was exasperated.

“Nothing. It doesn’t matter. Never mind.” Brett shooed me back in the other direction.

Well, that did it.

“Well, I’m sorry if I care about what kind of crap you are putting on our registry! People may buy these things for us, and I don’t want to waste their money on things we will NEVER use. They want their money to go toward things we’ll actually USE!”

I shouted that last part.

Chastised, Brett sighed and followed me dutifully into the next aisle. You do not mess with a pregnant, hormonal woman who is already, clearly on edge.

Our struggle was hardly over. Mom, Candice, or I still had to throw ourselves bodily in front of certain items to keep Happy Trigger from scanning them. We also had to talk him out of registering for (quite possibly) the ugliest baby carrier ever.

“But this company makes backpacks,” he said, holding the gun dangerously close to the barcode.

“Yes, but it’s an icky blue. It’s scruffy and feels like it’s packed with Styrofoam. Look at this one! It’s soft and feels so snuggly.”

I held my breath, prepared to throw a tantrum if necessary (I am an only child after all, and know everything possible about throwing a successful tantrum). Behind me, Mom and Candice were quiet, but I could psychically feel them agreeing with me.

Brett relented, with a heavy, heart-felt sigh, and scanned the cute baby carrier.

As we headed down one of the last aisles, I was regretting the very idea of registering. Perhaps sensing my discouragement, Candice came alongside me.

“You got the online registration, right?”

“Yeah,” I sighed. “It comes with the package.”

“Well, you know you can go online and take stuff off, right? I mean, it’s not permanent.”

“It’s not?” My eyes lit up, and I felt a second wind rush through my spirit.

“Nope. You can just let him scan whatever he wants, and then go online and adjust it.”

“I can?” The very idea had me grinning, as I looked over to see Brett studying the potty chairs.

Candice nodded slyly, and - can I just say - she only looks naïve. She’s smart as a whip, that one.

I was relieved to have some level of harmony restored to my marriage as I stopped sighing, rolling my eyes, and tapping my foot at every unauthorized beep-bop. I just smiled, nodded, and held on to Candice’s advice.

To alleviate Mom’s stress (which was nearing my own nuclear levels), I told her my plan. She looked incredibly relieved, and the four of us finished registering in a much happier frame of mind.

As Brett and I drove home, he told me how happy he was I’d included him on the adventure (oh, if only I’d known NOT including him was even an option!). I said the sweet nothings you say when you are secretly putting a dastardly plan in motion.

I reassured him – the truth – that he will be an excellent father, compassionate, affectionate, and kind.

I didn’t mention his UUIP was showing or even bring up the unofficial beep-bops that had driven me half-mad for most of the day. Instead we talked about our Sam and fell quite comfortably back into step.

In the meantime, I’ve yet to hop online and adjust the registry.

So, if you’re curious, let me tell you right now, whatever you do, don’t buy the ugly red Columbia diaper bag, the stroller carabineer, or the NASCAR sunshade.

And, for heaven’s sake, please don’t buy the raspberry pregnancy pops!


Valorie said...

I just love reading your posts. They always bring a smile to my face! Sounds like you had a fun and interesting day.

Alice said...

The online option is great. Though I'm glad you had Mom and Candace to go with and help balance things out.

And I feel your pain. We have a NASCAR umbrella stroller. You know, for our two GIRLS. Guess who picked it out.

Juliet said...

It was so fun doing the baby registry. And thanks to Candice insight about deleting items later. It took the worry out of: "What's Brett zapping now?"

Perhaps when Sam arrives into this world, we could have Brett pass out raspberry pops!!!