Photo: miggslives on Flickr

You know how when you’re starting to feel kind of proud of yourself it’s like perfect ripe timing to be totally schooled? Yeah, it was like that.

The day was going so well.

Today was my first day without Big Mack but with all 5 kids for the entire afternoon from the school pickup through bedtime. So like any new and somewhat frightened step-mom I think, “Ice cream and some kind of park ought to do it, right?” So I packed up the Evans boys and headed to the school to pick up the Mack kids at the appointed time. I was greeted with smiles and a request for another friend to join us… no problem. She didn’t have to be home so what was one more? After all, I wouldn’t want an empty seat in my vehicle, would I? That would just be silly. Pack ’em in I say.

So I took the 6 kids, including one in a stroller, to a very cramped, very chaotic ice cream shop… like a corner grocery store that seems to have cornered the market on kid-goodness: ice cream, candy, slushies etc. These guys, in fact, even mix ice cream and slushy together to create a treat highly coveted by children everywhere I’m sure. Once all 6 were happily licking away we were off to the local park that is both a playground and a beach – the best of both worlds and a place I had yet to visit. I was obviously feeling particularly cocky by this point as evidenced by my comfort with a lack of prior reconnaissance of the area. All the kids were playing nicely though; it was like a miracle was taking place. Miss Mack and her friend were doing typical pre-teen stuff: alternating between deep conversation on the swings to joining in with the younger kids at the water’s edge; and the 3 middle kids were playing nicely with mini-boy as he tiptoed into the water and hucked handfuls of wet sand everywhere. There was only a little complaining about our lack of preparedness for the beach; it was an impromptu visit after all so no one had swim suits, towels or sand toys but we made do and any complaining was so minor it was barely worth mentioning.

No one is crying and all are enjoying themselves. WIN!

They even behaved when I said it was time to go (a blessing from God Himself, no doubt, who knew what was coming up). We all piled back in to the big family wagon and made our way home… or rather, most of the way home.

And then it happened.

I could see it coming and I heard the gasps from the back seats. It was awful. There was a frenzy. I just knew when I saw the array of assorted barbecues, gardening tools and old dishes that this would be something like a monkey party with stuff flying everywhere. It was like watching a train wreck happen in slow motion and I was totally powerless to stop it. I pulled up the vehicle outside the house and the kids piled out with lightning speed.

“We’re going to the garage sale!” “I have my own money!” “Hey I don’t have any money *cries*!” “Wait for me!” “Move your bag I can’t get out!” “I want to see what they have too!” “We’re going to buy stuff!”

It was awful.

I stared, hopeless, as the 4 older kids trotted off towards the place where old lawnmowers went to die as I bid farewell to the friend from across the street who joined us for the afternoon. Knowing full well I had to care for mini-boy and make dinner (not to mention that I think the Mack kids sense my apprehension with my new role in their lives and know how to play me ever so subtly), they knew all too well I was indeed powerless against their schemes. In a moment they were gone. No one warned me about this.

Why didn’t anyone warn me?!

I had no idea how bad it could be. I had no idea they had any money!! Who gave these kids money?! I’m convinced the neighbour gave them half of the stuff they brought home. Not only one but TWO of the children bought new tool boxes for Big Mack who, incidentally, already has about six tool boxes. Now he’s a handy do-it-yourself kind of guy, but that steel box that looks like a 1967 workman’s lunch kit sure is going to cramp his style. Then there was this awesome joy stick thing that can be used to play games on the computer. “Which games?” I asked. “Any game.” I was told.

Oh but it gets better.

Mini-man bought a remote control. “It just needs batteries,” he tells me. So now if I want to turn on the NOTHING it came with I will have no trouble doing so. How thoughtful. And I know we’ll all get a lot of use out of that NBA game for PC they brought home. Oh yeah, and there were baseball cards… or was it hockey cards, or basketball. Honestly I don’t care. I found myself praying: “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.”

I find myself with my own childhood flashing before my eyes and a sudden appreciation for my dad and his tempered reaction to my own awesome garage sale finds. In fact, I’m a little remorseful if I’m being honest. Sorry dad. I had NO IDEA.

So much for that commitment Big Mack and I just made to stop buying more stuff. I think we forgot to pass on the memo.

And now I’m sitting, and looking around at the boxes of stuff I still have to unpack and find homes for and I find myself thinking, “We should have a garage sale.”