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Berlitz Summer Camp
by Steve Calechman
My first baby is not due until November, but I’ve already peaked as a parent.
I made it out of Babies ’R’ Us yesterday in under 45 minutes. Even as a rookie, I know that this is god-like stuff. And mind you, this was no empty visit. My wife and I registered for a high chair, ordered a crib, dresser and changing table, and walked out with a mattress.
Granted, it was my third visit to the store and we had spent three hours in there the day before doing research, but there’s no need to focus on that. The bigger point is that on one visit, Jenny and I were able to escape in under an hour. That feat should come with a box of free diapers, because there is not one facet of this place that wants you back in the car in time for the start of the next inning.
I never had a reason to go to Babies ’R’ Us before the plus sign appeared on the stick. In hindsight, I went in cocky. The building looks harmless from the outside, just another big-box store in a strip mall. The place has aisles and shopping carts; I’m good with those. Plus, it’s filled with tiny-sized things … for babies. I’m 6’2” and in good shape. I’m not afraid of any onesie. Besides, we were doing a registry. I did a wedding registry last year, and I ruled at wedding registries. The stores give you a laser gun. I’m a marksman with a barcode.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that the similarities of wedding and baby registries ended there. After we talked to some lovely registry consultants, we were allowed to roam in the suggested, easy-to-follow zigzag pattern. It was not only not easy, but we also failed to find the zigzag. We merely became dizzy. Not only did I not know about any of this baby gear stuff, but I had the underlying fear that picking the wrong thing would hurt my baby, or, worse still, stunt my baby’s development and ability to get into a decent and affordable college.
That’s the evil genius of the place. It presents itself in a familiar form, but Babies ’R’ Us is nothing more than a casino, just with harsher lighting. It’s its own little world, where time and outside laws mean nothing. When we finally found our way out, we were questioning if a car seat was really a necessity, because we didn’t want to ever leave home to go back in there.
That didn’t work either.
We thought we were just innocently going to look only at strollers, but the store is too powerful. We were looking at strollers and I started feeling confident. I turned my head slightly and saw the rest of the store. It was only for a second, but, before I could catch myself, I was saying, “Yeah, we need to look at bedding,” and I was off to look at bedding, away from base camp and going off book. I knew it was wrong, but it felt so good.
Jenny could do nothing but follow and try to minimize the damage, but she’s only so strong. We were at monitors, then food containers, and when we were lost, which was often, a nice person in purple always appeared, asking if we needed help. Then it was on to playards, shoes, breast pumps, and just when we thought that we couldn’t go on – how convenient, a nice, comfortable chair presented itself.
Because what we needed more than anything was to recharge.
So pardon me if I revel at what may be just a fluke. But our third visit to the store likely broke records. For one glorious day, I resisted the beast’s seductive ways in under 45 minutes.
I’ve already learned one rule of parenting; I’ll take my victories any way that I can.
Steve Calechman is a freelance writer expecting his first child.
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