Tuesday, October 29, 2013

To Mackenzie: The Real Story About Your Birthday Box

It seems to me that every time I have attempted to take both boys to the post office with me for a "quick stop", it always turns into a disaster.

Doesn't it look so harmless?

My lovely and more-with-it-than-me twin sister sent me a fantastic box for our birthday.  It arrived a week early and was full of all sorts of excellent goodies, most notably two pairs of homemade leg-warmers and a cute chalkboard clipboard.  She is so crafty.

Upon opening and enjoying all the fun items, I resolved to send her a box she'd like just as well.  Being as how she had just celebrated the one year mark of surviving parenthood (her son's first birthday!) I thought it would be appropriate to send her some things to make her feel cute and stylish.

I was determined to prove to the world (and mostly to myself) that the phobia of the post office in general was all in my head.

The night before the big day, I diligently packed my own tape, address card, said stylish birthday items, birthday card, and Sharpie marker and loaded them in the van.

The next morning, I packed the boys up and off we went.  How long could this possibly take?  10 minutes?  15?

I unloaded both boys who were eager to go to "the mail store".  I did not put them in the stroller...it would only slow me down and would be just one more thing to unload and pack up.  I looked at the clock.  8:45 am.  Surely I would be back to the car by 9:00 at the latest.  I considered it a race against time.

I set my box of prepared things on the self-serve kiosk, and hunted around for a minute until I found the perfect size box to fit all my items.  I packed it neatly...mentally patting myself on the back.  "You've really done it this time!  The post office isn't that bad!"

I had been semi-ignoring distracted from the boys for only about five minutes when I looked over to see them squealing with delight at the fact that they could see through the mailboxes at the postal workers behind the wall.  Racing from side to side, they would stop and glare through the metal cracks every so often. Harmless.  Back to business.

I taped my box extra well (being so prepared, I brought two rolls of my own packing tape, knowing that they do not provide it and I always run out and have to buy a roll there...).  I pulled out my handy-dandy Sharpie to inscribe Mackenzie's address when I small feeling of panic came over me.  Address card?   Address card?  Hmmm...where did that blasted thing go?

{As a side-note, my sister has not stayed in one location for the past four years, so no, I don't have my own sister's address memorized.)

From a small distance away, I heard Joseph exclaim something about at roly poly.  No matter.  Those don't bite...carry on.

Yes, I admit...I still use a Rolodex. Old-school? Yes.  But it's super cute - my sister-in-law made it for me from a scrapbooking set of papers and embellishments.  And I'm old-fashioned like that.  I love paper and pencil.  It's genetic, I think.

Anyway, I emptied the contents of my pockets, most of my purse, and scoured the floor.  Nowhere to be found.  I looked at my watch.  8:55.  All I have to do is find that dumb address card and write it down!

Joseph and Michael were still very enthralled with the indoor roly poly, so I continued my search.

It came to me that I had put the address card inside the gift bag for safe keeping.  Yes, the gift bag that was now securely taped inside the box with my two rolls of packing tape.  Awesome.

I called my mom to get Mackenzie's address.  She unfortunately wasn't at home that morning, so she called my dad who located her Rolodex (see, genetic), who called me back with the address.  During all this calling, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that Joseph seemed to be wearing less clothing than I had dressed him in that morning.  I decided the situation deserved a full glance, and watched in disbelief as he began to peel off all his layers.

"What are you doing?!"  "Mommy, roly poly is in my coat!!"  "Uh, ok, so just take your coat off and shake it out."

No dice.  Off comes the next layer, and the next, until he is down to his skivvies trying to find the offending roly poly.  Michael, in the meantime, thinks this is a game.  He begins to undress.  Shoes, shirt, pants...with one hand on the phone, and the other trying to dress two kids at once, it was not a pretty picture.  The roly poly was at last recovered from Joseph's shirt, where it had indeed crawled all the way up his sleeve.  Begging the boys to please leave their clothes on, I hurriedly wrote the address on the box and took it to the weight and stamp machine, which was around the corner.

Now, this was not my first rodeo on one of these bad boys, but when you're already flustered and in a hurry, it's just not as easy as it should be.  Questions about the contents of my box...is it alive?  Well, it would be if the box was big enough to hold children.  No.  Flammable?  No.  Edible?  If I got desperate. You get the idea.  Anyway, I got to the very end where it asks about buying insurance on your package.

INSURANCE?  YOU WANT ME TO SPEND $50 ON A BOX THAT IS COSTING ME $12.35 TO SHIP ACROSS THE COUNTRY?  ARE YOU INSANE?  No, I didn't actually yell that out loud, but I wanted to.  Because just as I felt my blood pressure begin to rise again, I noticed the boys were standing by the door...Joseph had discovered the deadbolt lock to the post office door, and was very amused with himself.  "Mommy, look, a lock!"  Michael was staging some kind of sit-in, as his body was sprawled across the floor in front of the door, blocking the only way in and out.  Trying to corral the boys with one leg, I got back to the task at hand.  Insurance.  I politely declined the insurance they were offering me, hoping to get my stamp and be on my way.  Instead, the screen read, "Thank you for choosing USPS.  Please hit the Start button to continue."

What?!  Start over?  I HAVE to buy insurance in order to ship my package?  All the way back to the first screen?  I impatiently went through Twenty Questions again.  When it got to the insurance screen, I selected the "Continue with $50 Insurance" (cheapest) option just to see.

Oh.  It comes with $50 insurance.  I don't have to buy it.  They need to seriously think about clarifying their kiosk instructions.

Select, swipe, print, peel, stick.  Done and done.

I grabbed all of our belongings that were strewn around the ground, smiling sheepishly at people who were now trying to enter and exit the building with my kids blocking the way.  And then that oh-so-familiar stare.  You know, the "your-kids-are-out-of-control-and-you're-pregnant-again-how-irresponsible" stare?  Yeah, that one.  I'm finally starting to become immune to it.  Trying to think of something polite to say, my thoughts were interrupted by....

"Mommy, where is roly poly?"  "I don't know, where did you put him?"  "I LOST ROLY POLY...<cue wailing and gnashing of teeth>...MOMMY, WHERE IS HE?"

Ugh.  "He's right here.  Let's take him outside."  "NO, MOMMY, HE LIKES IT INSIDE."  (Still crying.)  "Okay, then leave him here and let's go."  "NO, MOMMY, I DON'T WANT TO.  I WANT HIM."

Easiest solution?  Pick up both fully-walking-capable children, and get out the door, which has no handicapped button to push for those of us who usually don't have the use of  three quarters of our limbs.  

Kids locked and loaded, I glanced at my stroller.  "Where were you?!"  I thought bitterly.  Then I started the car.  9:30.  Record time.

Happy Birthday Mackenzie!  Next year, look for a package from Amazon.


  1. Wow, you're totally right. That was wayyyy better than you made it out to be the first time. :) If it's any consolation, I loved the box!

  2. Ha ha! I love it! Good story Lyss!