The girls played with Silly Bandz for Saturdays on end when we went to synagogue services. Some of the older kids had them. They were a marvel, a delight, a wonder. We heard stories about them and we were asked if we could purchase them and I gave the same noncommittal answer I give as policy whenever I'm asked to purchase anything: "Maybe, loves. I'll remember that you want them." (See also: Pillow Pets (unicorn, ladybug and dolphin, conveniently pre-negotiated and specified); the entire Barbie display at Target and pretty much anything they see in the Sunday advertisements if I don't get them in the recycling bin fast enough.)
But then S got Silly Bandz and I knew the end was nigh. The campaigning began in earnest.
That next night I took G for his four-month doctor's appointment while M picked up the girls. We were supposed to meet for dinner but that half of the family was stuck in traffic so G and I perused the shops of the strip mall where dinner was to be eaten and lo and behold, the toy store had a big sign: SILLY BANDZ BACK IN STOCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I discovered that for $3.00 I could get 24 glow-in-the-dark bracelets. I decided to be a $6 hero and surprise two hungry girls during the painful interstice between ordering food and eating the first bite of food.
I was, indeed, a hero.
And then in the days that followed their collections multiplied, largely due to my mother's largesse, she who misses her granddaughters very much and also would never be accused of excelling at moderation.
Here is a way that the girls are different: E is a careful worrier, like me, and L is chaos theory personified.
When I was in late elementary or maybe middle school my Aunt Nancy gave me a small stationery set of 16 or 20 notecards. Each card had my name in the bottom corner and a line drawing of a woman. The woman was embellished differently on every card. Each card had a hat and the collar or suggestion of a dress made out of triangles of velvet. On some cards the hats were wide brimmed. On some they were petite pillboxes. Some dresses had plunging necklines and some were boatnecks and some were off-the-shoulder, all perceived so by the angle of the velvety triangles against the same line drawing. Some hats had pluming feathers. Some had jewels made of sequins. Some of the women had earrings of sequins and some had broaches of sequins. On every notecard the velvet was a different color.
I couldn't use them.
They were too beautiful to me to give up. I never wrote a single note on those cards, save the one I used as a thank-you to my aunt, and for that sacrificial task I carefully weighed the aesthetics of each card to determine which I could lose forever with the least pain (brown velvet, gold sequin earrings, and yes I still remember it). The rest I hung on my wall as decoration, just to have and behold.
E collects her Silly Bandz. She arranges them by theme or color or hierarchy of wonderfulness, and then she leaves them on the dresser in her room. She will not wear them. One broke, once (yellow, shaped like french fries) and now she prefers simply to have them.
L likes to take all of the magnets off of the fridge. She will climb by any means necessary to reach even the most implausibly attractive magnets. She plays intricate sorting games with them; sometimes she just practices Crazy-Making with them (it's a real phenomenon); often she'll denude the fridge for the joy of the strip show itself. We'll find stacks of magnets in the family room; tucked into one of her dress-up purses; hiding in the Playdoh box. I'll find them on the floor of my shower where the water will push one off of my foot that I've been walking around unknowingly attached to for hours. We'll find them tucked in our shoes like presents from elves and huddling at the bottom of the basement stairs and in the cup holder of my car.
And now she does the same with Silly Bandz. Yesterday she wore about 30 of them. I also found a small stack on the kitchen table; a pile of yellow and orange ones under the coffee table; all the farm animals in a line in her skirts-and-dresses drawer. They are everywhere, yet another instance of L disassembling the order of the natural world and our lives faster than we can re-assemble the last scattered collection.
Yesterday evening the five of us went to the grocery store after a long, full day together (their school was closed for a teacher training day) and just as I steered the cart toward the much beloved bakery blueberry muffins L yelled out and pointed and almost climbed out of the cart. SILLY BANDZ!! And Harris Teeter, I thought you loved me but I also thought the muffins themselves were the special treat, and you go and stick these bracelets right at child-in-a-cart eye-level in the muffin area?
But I calculate that though it could not possibly be argued any longer that these girls are lacking in these shaped bracelets I can buy a lot of good behavior out of them for lo these many, many more grocery store aisles for the low, low price of, let's see, $2.49 per 12 bracelets that are shaped like motorized vehicles per child. The lovely husband smirks and teases that he just read an interview with the Silly Bandz inventor who said that he wanted to come up with a product that kids would buy $100 of, $4.99 at a time. I don't remind him that the last time he took the girls to the grocery store they each came home with a $5 coloring book with built-in crayons, when we already have a dozen coloring books and a kazallion crayons at home.
Kazallion: it's the biggest number. It's higher than infinity-and-ten. E taught us that.
So this morning G rolled all the way over, grinned, thrust out his fat little fist, scooped up an orange eighteen-wheeler Silly Band from its completely random location in the middle of the carpet, and immediately shoved it into his mouth with a smile.
The last time I had to baby proof, the two-year-old of the house would have rather hide her toys from the baby than have the opportunity to play with them herself. This time, the two-year-old of the house believes that the best way to show belongings some love is to throw them up in the air like parade confetti and smile with pleasant surprise when you find them again three weeks later. In that way, every minute of every day brings a happy reunion.
We're in so much trouble.