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Open Door Policy

I’m surprisingly handy. It comes from growing up in a do-it-yourself, this-knowledge-will-build-character kind of family. Character-building is the term parents use to justify slave labor. When I was seven, my Dad and I were the President, Vice-President, and only members of our synagogue’s landscaping committee. At first-grade, I could boast it built character, not to mention a keen understanding of how long it takes for a small child to plant 200 junipers. And unlike my husband who grew up in a Manhattan townhouse with more staff working in his house than people who lived in it, I grew up the youngest of three girls; I was the staff. So that’s why I’m doing surgery on my son’s $1000 Stroller System, which is on the fritz and determined to build my character more.

For those not inducted of the baby world’s Sorority, Kappa Kappa Overspending, a Stroller System is merely an overpriced stroller. For $1000, a stroller becomes a “system,” giving owners the opportunity to both feel like a total and complete asshole for paying so much for a stroller and the feeling of superiority over those parents who didn’t. Currently, my son’s System is in the sick bay with two flat tires complete with air pump that neither pumps nor supplies air, an adjustable handle bar that won’t adjust, and a handle bar grip that looks like its been chewed to bits by a very angry wolf.

But with the $1000 purchase and the feeling of superiority, also come something only System owners get: real live customer service. I’ve received replacement parts for those not working from Claire, an actual human on the other end of customerservice@expensivestrollersystem.com. We’ve even had a back and forth email exchange, me wondering why I can’t follow the supposedly very easy directions that accompanied my System’s replacement parts and why my hands are too big to properly work the L-shaped Aika style wrench clearly made for small children working in coal mines.

To: customerserivce@expensivestrollersystem.com
Re: Replacement Parts

Dear Claire: Thanks so much for the parts. My only question regarding the “easy to remove cup holder,” is: how do you define easy?

To: Meredith@overpaid.com
Re Re: Replacement Parts

Dear Meredith: You may need a hammer, mallet, flat-head screwdriver, Phillips-head screwdriver, a wrecking ball, and a tetanus shot but otherwise the screws should come out after a couple of hours.

You should know that unless a hammer has a Gucci symbol on it, my husband isn’t interested. So I’m on my own figuring this one out. I’ve been at it for a couple hours, me now fairly certain that I might define the word easy a bit differently than my new best on the other end of customer service.

Hour three turns into hour four. I’m now cursing directly at my tiny little Aika wrench, Fucking piece of shit, I yell as I give in to the notion that I’m not as handy as previously thought. But before I can yell directly at the System itself, my kid, who by the way can’t walk, crawls by without even a glance my way, climbs himself up the wall so he’s standing like Spider-Man, opens the door, and crawls out into the front yard. A Toddler who can’t walk figured out how to escape and I can’t unscrew a screw? I think to myself. This System will not beat me! I say now more determined than ever to finish my mission.

I end my kid’s self-proclaimed liberation and put him to bed, deciding to spend the rest of the evening fixing my System. I’ll open a bottle of wine, watch something stupid on TV, and fix this damned thing, I think. But when I search for the corkscrew, I can’t find it. Instead, I find every cabinet in my kitchen open, a Tupperware massacre occurring on my floor. I go to turn on the TV but the remote has been altered, the TV no longer turns on. In fact, I look around the house and nearly every bit of baby proofing has been removed, the contents of each cabinet strewn about. I’ve been baby-ransacked! I realize. It seems that I’m not the only Handy Andy in the house, I’ve given birth to a modern day McGyver.

In fact, spend time with any one-year-old and it is clear they are far smarter than their parents. When my son doesn’t like his dinner, he hides it in his pockets, smiling like a Cheshire cat. He may have a toy cell phone and a fake set of keys, but he wants the real thing, knows the difference, and can call Tanzania with the flip of a few cordless phone buttons. He can un-babyproof a house faster than I can say, Watch out, that’s sharp! And he can tell when I’m hiding vegetables in his food even if he can’t see them.

The only thing he hasn’t figured out is how to do, is quit. He’s tenacious, has his eyes on the prize and is determined to acquire the phone, remote, or computer no matter where I hide them. He’s figured out how to open doors and how to hide food, and he’s even figuring out how to walk. So if my kid isn’t a quitter, than I won’t be a quitter. And since I figured how to fix our rooftop satellite dish when I was eight months pregnant (no Gucci on the dish, husband wasn’t interested), fixed our water heater without any prior plumbing knowledge, and repaired all our TVs after the geniuses at the cable company “fixed” them, I can figure out how to mend a Stroller System desperately in need of repair.

If not, I’ll just ask my kid who seems to know everything. Just today, he figured out how to flush a toilet. Maybe next, he’ll teach his dad.

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