It was Christmas morning, my husband, Jon, and I woke up at 7 a.m. and descended the steep (not-to-code) stairs. He brewed a pot of coffee for Grandma Nancy—coffee which I greedily availed myself to. As we gathered caffeine in cups, and black Hefty bags for wrapping paper containment, I truly felt like a parent for the first time. (My toddler twin boys, the Muppets, were old enough to quasi-comprehend the concept of wrapping paper, the Hefty bags would be rendered useless as the boys would be far more interested in ripping things to shreds.) But way more prolific in the gift-purchasing department, Grandma was here!
Dear god—Toys R Us has exploded in my house.
And then we dove in. It’s a new millennium, a new generation. And we are very Silicon Valley chic here in these parts—both Grandmas had arrived bearing baby laptops and iPads.
My son, Search, went absolutely ballistic—full-blown tantrum, replete with biting and tearing at the packaging as Jon untangled the childproof (and adult-proof) box. Once we breached the nuclear bunker outer guard of the packaging, my little Muppet toddled off to happily type away on his new toy.
I wonder who he learned that from.
Yet, my other son, Destroy, was thrilled to be stirring and stirring his new plastic vegetable steamer pot that makes vaguely sexual-sounding statements like, “Ohhhh, the nutrients.” (And we all know the apple of culinary creations isn’t even from the same orchard as mine.)
There were also the old-school, tried-and-true cardboard blocks. They came flat. They needed to be puzzled together. (Remember those standardized tests that presented you with a shape and five multiple choice options of, “What would this look like when folded?” I failed those tests; they told me my career trajectory was “not doing anything that requires visual expertise.” Look at me now, I’m writing stuff.)
Also along the lines of classic toys, Grandpa Gary bestowed upon the Muppets their very first t-ball set. So we’ve either got two baseball Hall-of-Famers in the making (our last name, Stream, really is a great name: “And Stream takes the mound! The crowd goes wild!”); or we’re about to see a reenactment of the hammer-wielding legend of Thor, as two 25-pounders try to beat each other at a game of Muppet whack-a-mole.
Grandma Nancy argued with the different size folding blocks, while I assembled the new police cruiser, Little Tykes Cozy Coupe. With only one minor break requiring me to storm out into the garage in search of power tools (manual screwdrivers be damned), I was relatively successful. However, Jon has since informed me that I put the front wheels on backward.
Whatever. It races.
I moved on to assemble Lucky, the Rocking Horse. That’s right. My kids got a pony for Christmas. (Guess where that came from. Hint, a grandparent.) The boys loved it. Search rocked that sucker like he was gunning for eight seconds at the local rodeo. They’ve only fallen off a couple times. And they seem to get a big kick out of Lucky’s bleating song—which I’m pretty sure is a mash-up of “Frosty the Snowman” and Lyle Lovett’s “If I Had a Boat.”
Fingers crossed, I got the springs attached to that rocking horse correctly. (It’s a shame I clearly got the voice box installed right.)
You may have thought the insanity stopped once we’d survived the onslaught of gifts from grandparents. You would be wrong, especially when you realize that we have family members that work at toy-maker Mattel.
Case in point: I had walked in the door this afternoon to find two motorized Toy Story 3 Big Wheels charging in the kitchen. TWO! Because we hadn’t quite figured out which present would cause the most Muppet mayhem. Uncle Paul and Aunt Steph wanted to be CERTAIN their gift would be a strong contender for the first ER visit.
Ladies and gentleman—place your bets.
Finally, it was over. I could almost see the living room floor once again. The Muppets were giddily gleeful to the point of utter exhaustion, refusing to take off their new rain boots. Gramma J. pointed to one final bag; the last present, and it was for me: three bottles of Pinot Noir and a hearty selection of dark chocolate truffles to counteract the motorized Muppet mobiles.
Well played, sister. Well played. This is why you are my favorite grandparent.
Merry Christmas, Love Grandma. Some Assembly Required is an excerpt from the new anthology Mom for the Holidays: Stories of Love, Laughter, and Tantrums at Christmas and Hanukkah. Visit them at Mom for the Holidays! You couldn’t ask for a better gift to a fellow mom!
Corporate writer by day, mommy blogger by night, Tricia Stream is a Silicon Valley tech geek raising twin toddlers–Search and Destroy. Instead of having one baby after nine months, she had two after six months; she’s efficient like that. Tricia is a hybrid who runs on coffee and chocolate while writing about life around her—because sometimes finding the humor of the situation is the only way to survive on her blog Stream of the Conscious.