The first year we paid any attention to the Queen’s Park Neighbourhood Garage Sale (which happens annually all over the Queen’s Park Neighbourhood on the Saturday before Mother’s Day) was 2008, the year my son Fresco was a month old. My partner Saint Aardvark, took our older son, almost-two-year-old Trombone out and they came home with a plastic microphone and a book. Fresco and I stayed home and probably slept, as you do when you are either a month-old infant or that infant’s mother.
Last year, we went all together. Trombone was delighted to get a bunch of trains for fifty cents and Fresco was delighted to sit in the buggy and be handed random items to look at. SA almost bought a manual coffee grinder and has regretted not buying it ever since. We came home happy with a pop-up playhouse / puppet theatre and a spice rack. Sweeter days we never knew!
This year, wrapped up in nostalgia for wonderful garage sales past, (SA was sure he’d find his coffee grinder again) we made some crucial errors in judgment.
1. I let SA sleep in until 8:30. While a lovely gesture, it also meant I was the one to get up stupid-early with the kids. By the time we were all ready to walk around the neighbourhood for 4 hours I was a little cranky. The children, of course, had been ready to go at 7:00. By 9:00, they were not at all about “listening!” or “holding my hand crossing the street!” or “putting That DOWN!” Or, frankly, being rational and yes, I do sometimes appreciate rationality from my under-Fives.
2. We only took the single seat for the buggy, thinking Trombone could walk. OK, yes, he should walk more but 4 hours of walking? Is beyond an almost-four-year-old. It was practically beyond me.
3. We kept forgetting to restrain two-year-old Fresco, who, every time we pulled up to a new house, made an exaggerated gasping noise and launched himself out of the buggy to touch/knock over/covet/tantrum about not getting everything within his reach.
4. Let’s consider the concept of “garage sale” from a child’s point of view.
First, your mom talks it up all morning so you’re more excited than Easter X Christmas + Unicorns! X Trains!
Then, you have to walk 5 blocks before anything happens.
You don’t remember last year because you have the long-term memory of a goldfish at this age.
Finally: you get to a house and there are toys all over the lawn! But you can’t touch them.
Your mom buys you a frog umbrella for $1. You like that part! Then it’s time to keep walking.
You get to another house, with more toys. You forget about the frog umbrella. (short term memory: selective at best)
Your mom keeps telling you that the things on the lawn cost money but the lawn isn’t a store! Why do the things cost money? Why are they on the lawn?
It was like all the over-stimulation and blind obsession with Where’s The Next Thing! of Christmas. But outside. On other peoples’ property. Without the rum and eggnog.
5. Thinking that if we just got them each something to look at at the first table, then we would be able to browse undisturbed for another 6 blocks. It would seem that those days are over.
6. Buying a giant set of plastic blocks that, when put together, make a 4 foot square castle, but deciding we could carry it home. Hindsight says: GO BACK LATER WITH THE CAR.
Yes, that was us you saw struggling down 6th Avenue, laden with two tired, heavy children, an orange buggy, three garbage bags full of plastic blocks, an electric guitar, an umbrella, two unnecessary jackets and a Richard Scarry book. At noon.
But we only spent $8.25 on everything! And we got lots of exercise! And it was a beautiful day!
Next year we’re getting a babysitter.