About a year ago, I was finishing up school outside of Boston and we were living in the sort of tiny little apartment that comes with being a student again. We received some various handed-down items from a sister-in-law who lives a few states away. If you’re a parent, you know how this works. Toys and clothes are outgrown at the speed of light, and are thus passed down to other children in the family. This distributes things out a bit, and keeps all of you from going broke.
The issue with this system is that you don’t always like what you get. Of course, it’s a gift, and can be re-gifted if you don’t like it, either further down the family tree or out of the family altogether, if you think you’re doing someone a favor by doing so.
When we received a red Elmo chair, that was basically the immediate plan. The thing had to go. Karen and I hold the view that Elmo is…well, he’s basically evil. He is linguistically challenged (incessant third-person, anyone?), he giggles at everything whether appropriate or not, and his voice makes fingernails down a chalkboard sound musical by comparison. There’s nothing educational about Elmo. Watching him destroys brain cells. The last thing we want is for our daughter to ever even know that he exists.
Of course, she liked the chair the first time she saw it, sat in it, asked us about it. She began to refer to it as her “monster chair,” and was quite enamored with the thing, as fate would have it.
Karen and I conferenced (if you’re a parent, you also know how this works…sort of like the huddle in the middle of the game). We agreed to roll with it until our daughter lost interest. As soon as she diverted (or we could divert) her attention to something else, the Monster Chair would quickly be whisked away, never to be heard from again.
The issue was that, every time we attempted to get rid of it, were just on the verge of finally letting it vanish, our daughter would spot it, delightfully proclaim that her Monster Chair was back, and sit in it to watch something or play. So, we would wait until it faded to the background again.
The strategy changed a bit. We would wait longer, give her longer to forget about it. She saw it as we were packing to move into our most recent apartment and latched onto it again. so we moved it with us, and slipped it into a closet to be forgotten about. Except that it was seen when that closet was opened for Christmas decorations, and had to be tolerated again for a few weeks. Most recently, it had been shuffled back into that closet after being seen when another toy was brought out.
The day before I write this, we finished packing our entire collective life into a moving truck yet again, this time heading south toward warmer climates once more. For the next year or more, we’ll be living in the Raleigh area. During the packing process, Karen came across the Monster Chair. What followed was something like this.
I came home one evening to find the Monster Chair in the hallway outside of our apartment. Karen and I exchanged knowing glances when I arrived inside. The offending thing was going away for good this time. Karen left for work that evening, and took it all the way downstairs to the first floor hallway of the apartment building. When she came home, I went to the laundry room, also on the first floor. The Monster Chair came with me, transferred to the folding counter. In our apartment building, this was where odds and ends were placed that were being given away. Toys were frequently left there, we had noticed, so it seemed logical. Someone would find a use for the Monster Chair, and we would never have to see it again.
The following morning, Karen had ran an early errand and I got up with our daughter. After breakfast, I was focused on cleaning tasks that needed to be finished as we packed for the move. One of those tasks was still laundry. Our daughter came downstairs with me. I opened the door to the laundry room, and immediately saw the Monster Chair in my peripheral vision. I kept the look of realization from my face, and kept moving, hoping she would miss it. She closed the door behind me, one of the “big girl” things that she likes to do now, and I watched as her eyes traveled across the room to rest on the chair. She paused. Her mental gears turned. She tilted her head to one side, and formed her words carefully.
“Daddy, that’s my Monster Chair,”
I changed the subject. We walked back to the stairway, just as Karen came into the building from the outside. Our daughter ran to greet her with a big hug, and the question, “Mommy, did you put my Monster Chair down there?”
Karen stared. I shrugged. Our daughter talked about it all the way upstairs, after which I walked back downstairs to retrieve the chair.
When we moved yesterday, it was on the moving truck.
So, it appears that this Monster Chair is just something that isn’t going away. Karen and I have officially given up trying to rid ourselves of it. We’re stuck with the Monster Chair. It’s just one of those amusing tales of moving that we’re accumulating. I suppose that, considering we’ve still managed to avoid letting our daughter ever watch Elmo, then maybe this isn’t’ that bad.