Wednesday, April 25, 2007

SandyPants, Inc.

Ladies and Gentlemen.

Today, I spent the entire morning and afternoon searching for this stuff, shown in the picture above. THIS, people, this stuff you see up there... is called PLAY SAND. That is to say, it is the type of sand that is fit for children to play with. It is clean looking. It is soft to the touch. It absorbs water well, and so long as you don't put too much water into it, the sand holds a shape when you mould it... for example, the shape of a child's bucket. A "castle-shape", if you will.

I am absolutely gobsmacked that I have had to spend nearly the entire day painstakingly explaining to any merchant who would listen (and even some who wouldn't) exactly WHAT play sand IS.

You see, I'm trying to re-fill my kids' sand box for the summer. Apparently, all the store keepers around here who, for the past ten and a half years, have been stocking proper, washed "beach-type" play sand have completely lost their minds this spring. Almost none of them had any idea what on earth I was asking for... or WHY I would be asking for it, for that matter, clearly forgetting that it is THEY who have been selling me the stuff for just a little over a decade.

Let me tell you what went on around here last weekend. Last weekend, my family discovered precisely what "play sand" ISN'T. Ironically, "play sand" is not the stuff that is currently MARKED "play sand" in any of the hardware stores.

On Saturday morning, my husband arrived home with a trunk full of six bags of what our local Lansing Build-All calls "play sand".

Mother: What on earth is THAT?

Father: It's sand. For the sandbox. You asked me to buy six bags of sand for the sandbox.

Mother: That's not sand. THAT is MUD in granular form. If you put water in that stuff, you'll get instant mud puddle. That, friend, looks like a dirt jello mix to me.

Father: Well, that's all they had. Let's just try it.


Okay, so we tried it. We tried two bags of it.

And then, we invited my nephews, ages 2 and 4, to play at our house for the day on Sunday.

It was a beautiful day-- the sun was shining, it was warm, it was glorious. On such days, all that our children want to do is be OUT. And when they go out, the hose inevitably comes out, too. Those kids played with the muck in the sandbox for at least five hours. They had a wonderful time. They were in and out of the house for bathroom breaks and meals and snacks... It was a super visit.

What wasn't so great was the part after they left. My house. My garden. My kids. They were all covered with muddy grit, in all of it's many forms. The "play sand" had been tossed out of the box and trodden underfoot... That was to be expected. What was NOT to be expected were the zillions of grimy feet marks that trekked all over the patio and straight into the house. The floors were gritty and gooey, from the back door, all the way to the front. The bathrooms were TOTALLED, the fixtures all covered in muddy slime, from kids attempting to wash their hands. What didn't wash off came off when the children wiped the residue onto the walls in the halls as they walked by...

And their CLOTHES... It's been three days, now, Mt Washmore has been tackled twice this week already, and I've STILL got grimy stains (on the knees of all the pedal pushers and the fronts of all the shirts) soaking in Oxy Clean...

And the kids... THE KIDS!!! I hardly recognized them before they had their baths, they were so filthy. After scrubbing them all till they were pink again, I had to then scrub the rings off of the tub and shower stall before the job could really be called "done". Mr Clean does it again!! Now, when is he going to make laundry detergent... and baby soap, for that matter??!

Oh. My. God.

After the kids went to bed, my husband and I tackled the walls and floors. And he swore, on his hands and knees, weilding a Magic Eraser, that he will NEVER be suckered into being sent on an errand for play sand again.

So, today, at long last, The Domestic Goddess left the laundry tub, grabbed her sword and sheild, jumped in the Loser Cruiser, and sprung into action. The Quest Was On.

I FINALLY got through to the manager of our local Home Hardware at about three o'clock this afternoon... I made him understand what I was looking for, basically by painstakingly explaining to him precisely what "play sand" ISN'T. Bless his heart, he listened patiently to the Crazy Lady till she had finished her ranting, and then gently took her by the elbow and propelled her in the direction of the gardening supplies...

And there stood two bags of beautiful, sterilized beach sand, fit for children (and their mothers) to play in. There were only two bags, but he kindly placed an order for four more, which will be delivered on Friday.

In the meantime, my kids are gingerly playing in their freshly cleaned sandbox... being careful not to waste a single granule by accidentally spilling it on the patio... This is clearly precious stuff we're dealing with, here.

Let's just hope the Nice Guy from Home Hardware isn't the next play sand amnesia victim... or I might just have to start importing the stuff by the truckload myself.... Now, THERE'S a business idea for me... Maybe I could call it "Sand in my Shorts"? How about "SandyPants"?


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