One reason to have a baby, in my mind, is to be able to register at Target and carry around that red scanning gun.
It is almost better than a microphone at karaoke. And infinitely more satisfying than a label-making gun (though I remember, many years ago, thinking I might go into food service management just so I could be in charge of the label machine).
The Target red scanning gun is perfect for two reasons: 1) not everyone has one and 2) you shoot it at things and it makes noises.
I should mention at this point that I used to oppose registries. I thought they micro-managed the gift-buying process. Also, I hate the idea of buying new things. So much so that I once spent a year not buying anything new (an experience I also blogged about). I am still opposed to registries, at least philosophically. But there are realities in life.
Like the fact that my mom wants to throw us a baby shower when we come to visit for Christmas–and that’s awfully sweet of her. Also the fact that, despite doing our damnedest to get our hands on as many used and hand-me-down baby items as possible (thanks in big part to Blanca, Marta’s sister-in-law), we still face a deficit in the baby preparedness sector.
And so, with Blanca as our steady guide, Marta and I went to Target on Monday and registered. We named our registry team “Sarah, Marta & Balduino,” which I think thoroughly confused the mousy Target associate who was waiting to give us our registry gun. She looked from my face to Marta’s and then Blanca’s, trying to determine what kind of queer family we were, before finally handing me the gun with a timid smile. “Just come back if you have any problems,” she said, before scurrying back behind her Customer Service counter.
To be generous, I let Marta play with the gun at at first. She scanned some breast pumps and a couple of baby bottles before I declared her level of enthusiasm unacceptable and took control of things. By things, I mean the red scanning gun.
One really does feel powerful with it in your hands.
Though, as Blanca led us through the aisles, pointing out the various things we would need–or other things that would make our lives tremendously more peaceful if we had them on hand–I began to feel something quite the opposite of power. Terror, perhaps? And hopelessness.
There are so many things in the baby world! The Boppy Bare-Neck Pillow. The Summer Infant By-Your-Side Sleeper. The Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Boy Pacifier. And I have no idea what we are supposed to do with them. Is it OK, for instance, to give the Tommy Tippee Closer to Nature Boy Pacifier to a girl? And is the Summer Infant-by-Your-Side Sleeper also useful in early Fall?
But more pointedly: What in the world am I going to do when we actually have a tiny little thing and he is alive and squirmy and not just a pooch in Marta’s stomach? I surely can’t treat him the same way I treat Finn. There are standards to follow. And yet I have no idea what they are.
I was struck by this devastating thought, this bowing sense of defeat before the powers of the infant world, while standing in a Target aisle before a row of mix-and-match strollers, the once powerful-seeming red scanner gun dangling in my hand. Suddenly I wanted to run back to the mousy costumer service associate and sob into her shoulder.
It was like an existential crisis. Though much less French.
What finally brought me back was the red gun. In the midst of my haze of utter helplessness, its chipper scanning beep assured me that it would, indeed, all work out. That thousands of families before us have scanned and survived. Better yet, I remembered that we’ve been mass producing babies for centuries, without the help of Tippie or Boppy or Einstein anything, and those children have–mostly–grown up OK.
Our odds are good.