Most of our baby toys, clothes and furniture are hand-me-downs from various family and friends with now big kids whom have outgrown the stuff, and one of our favorites is the Leap Frog fridge farm…
Make that child 2 years younger, blonde, female, with a lot less teeth and 15 pounds lighter, make the walls blue, the refrigerator black, and the fridge magnet a little more worn in with a tint of yellow, some food crumbs shoved into the speaker and a tadpole at the top instead of duck and I could have totally taken this picture myself.
So this magnet, you put the animal pieces in and it sings about horse butts and cow heads. It’s catchy, happy, sing-songy and when you press on the tadpole above the barn it says in a loud high-pitched voice,
“Hi!! I’M FARMER TAD! LISTEN TO MY BANJO!!”
Poor Farmer Tad sounds phlegmy like he has a cold. And after hearing and repeating Farmer Tad a few hundred times now, I have unintentionally perfected the voice of Farmer Tad. I say it every time I open the fridge. “Hi!” I say it when I’m making my coffee. “I’m Farmer Tad!” I say it in my sleep. “Listen to my banjo!!” It’s gotten a little out of hand but it is what it is.
So a few months ago when I was pulling out Summer’s next size up bag of hand-me-downs that I had sorted before she was born, I was shocked at the 500 freaking pairs of size 9-12 month ugly hot pink or neon green stretchy cotton baby pants with purple flowers and weird floating kitten faces on them that were given to us, and I wondered who in their right mind would have bought them all because damn they were so not cute. So I bagged them all back up and stuck them somewhere in the back of a closet in the basement right next to where the spiders and creepy crawlies party. And now that I have a crawling 10-month-old on my hands, I am full-on kicking myself in the buttcheeks because damn it, I need stretchy cotton pants and as long as they’re long enough I could give a flying frack if they have poo-flinging monkeys on them as long as they keep her knees protected and warm, and I can’t for the life of me find the bag.
So yesterday morning I hit up the thrift store for a pair or two of stretchy pants that Summer could wear to the Cubs game later that afternoon. And of course there were no good pants because I can never ever find what I’m actually scouting out at a thrift store, but as I was looking, I found cute top after cute onesie after cute dress, all previously loved by other babies, each for $2 a pop. And before I knew it my arms were getting full. Ah, but then the books began calling out my name, and then I walked past the jewelry that caught my eye, and I gazed longingly at all of the pretty bright-colored glass vases, and on and on, I was sifting and strolling and spending way more time there than I had originally planned.
And as I was just about ready to peel myself out of there with arms full of everything besides cotton stretchy baby pants, it happened. I heard him. He said hi. He said his name was freaking Farmer Tad. He told me to listen to his mother effing banjo. He. Was. Right. Behind. Me. He began playing the familiar twangy tune of She’ll Be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain. And while I had my suspicions that it had actually happened years ago, this was the moment now frozen in time when I realized I had officially lost my mind. His banjo played loudly in my head. My armpits started sweating. I looked around for other shoppers to see if they were hearing it, too but there was no one else around to make eye contact with. There was no one else to hear it, and I was alone in my crazy. And then, all of a sudden, I breathed a deep, cleansing, satisfying sigh of relief as I turned to the next aisle and realized that some little kid had found a newer, cleaner version of Farmer Tad’s fridge farm for sale with fewer crumbs in the speaker and a less yellowy tint to it, and the kid had pressed the magic button.
And so it was, Farmer Tad’s twin was sitting in a ziplock baggie with his farm friends on an endcap in a thrift store for who knows how long and when I showed up he had called out to me. So I grabbed him, took him to the register, haggled with the cashier and got her down to $4 because Farmer Tad was missing a duck butt and a pig butt making it impossible to create a silly Farmer Tad horse duck or a cow pig. And now as we speak, Farmer Tad #2 and his fridge farm family are on their way to Michigan to taunt my sister and the twins from their refrigerator, because I truly believe that everyone should be able to enjoy the sweet sounds of Farmer Tad’s banjo at all times.