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About a month ago I decided our family
needed a kids’ wagon: with our community pool opening in May
I’ve been planning ahead for the daily treks, ordering
swimsuits and sunscreen and cover-ups and such, and realized
I’d need something to haul all that gear back and forth.
Since it’s less than a mile to the pool I refuse to drive
there, but also have no desire to become a pack mule, laden with
droopy toddlers and squirmy babies, towels, water bottles, and so

Hence the wagon decision.

I could picture us on summer days, me
pulling the wagon, Cora sitting on top of the towels while Maddie
walks alongside, towel wrapped around her neck. I (of course) did
serious wagon research online and picked out the exact one I wanted
– ahref="http://www.amazon.com/gp/redirect.html?ie=UTF8&location=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.amazon.com%2FRadio-Flyer-2700-Pathfinder-Wagon%2Fdp%2FB0000859QK%3Fie%3DUTF8%26s%3Dtoys-and-games%26qid%3D1208489829%26sr%3D8-1&tag=1mother2anoth-20&linkCode=ur2&camp=1789&creative=9325"
target="_blank">Radio Flyer Pathfinder wagon
, with two
seats, FOUR cupholders, and an impressively tight turning radius
(my husband tells me).

Then I started stalking Craig’s List.

I just couldn’t stomach buying one new when I knew that
somewhere out there, someone was getting rid of one. For weeks I
checked the classifieds and often spied one, only to be too late in
chasing it down. Finally, though, I heard in my mom’s group
that one of the moms was getting rid of hers. I cornered her
– Is it true?? – and two days and twenty-five bucks
later, Maddie and I went to pick the wagon up and bring it home.

I tried explaining the wagon in advance, but the Madster
didn’t quite get it. We’d used them before on beach
vacations, hauling chairs and coolers back and forth to the sand,
but she couldn’t believe we’d have our own. After
checking it out, though, she gave it her seal of approval and began
climbing all over it. Maddie opened the seats up. She folded them
down. She tested every cupholder. She tried her hand at steering
it. And finally, with a big grin on her face, she said,
“Let’s take it home, Mom!” Climbing in, Maddie
chose the rear-facing seat and got strapped in. Two steps into it,
she decided she wanted to face forward. Re-fastened in the
“better” seat, she stretched her legs out, paused, and
–no kidding – pulled out her sunglasses, pushed them on
her nose, and leaned back, hands behind her head.

And the thought bubble “Uh-oh” appeared over my head.

In the five days since we’ve brought that wagon home, the
sheen has not worn off. Maddie wants to ride in the wagon all
around the back yard. She wants to go to the park – but only
in the wagon. She brings things outside, hides them under the
folded-down seats, and “discovers” them. She pushes her
toys in the wagon. But the best toy, by far, is Cora.

Maddie thinks there is nothing cooler than sitting in the wagon,
her baby sister strapped in the opposing seat, while the mule
–er, Mom – pulls them for a ride. I can go up and down
the street, circle the block, or simply go around and around the
yard – it really doesn’t matter. Maddie loves it, and
Cora cackles with delight, rarely taking her eyes off her big
sister. I think, for Cora, part of the thrill is simply having
Maddie all to herself, strapped down and unable to talk to anyone
else. But whatever the reason, both girls love the thing.

There’s another reason Cora loves the wagon, though: it gives
her another prop to hold onto in the back yard. Cora can cruise
around and around the thing, and if she falls she simply bonks
herself on relatively soft plastic. She’s even made a
tentative try at pushing the wagon a la a walker, but hasn’t
been able to move it yet. But she’s still hoping.

So the wagon is a big hit. Combine the new “wheels”
with the girls’ love of being outdoors, and it’s easy
to see what we’ll be doing all summer. In fact,
Maddie’s best days recently have looked something like this:

Get up. Go outside and play on the swingset while Mom packs a
lunch. Get in the wagon and ride to the community duck pond. Picnic
there, throwing bread at the ducks and helping Cora eat grass. Ride
the wagon home. Play on the swingset some more, and protest
vociferously when it’s naptime. Wake up. Play on the swingset
until dinner. Eat dinner. Ride in the wagon to the park, and
protest vociferously when it’s time to go home and go
night-night. (“But it’s not dark!” “Yes,
honey, it is!” “No it isn’t! Mom, where are you?
I can’t see you!”)

Get the picture?

I think it was the right decision for us: the wagon is certainly
cheaper than a double stroller, and holds more gear. And
Cora’s getting too big and squirmy to be wearing a lot any
more. But it doesn’t make me feel any less like a pack mule.

So if you’re driving through our neighborhood one day and
spot a woman wearily trudging along, pulling two crazy girls in a
shiny red wagon, just wave and smile.

No rest for the weary.


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