"We can do this," I said, lifting the box upstairs.
I set the box down in Natalie's room. It was a Barbie Mall. This wouldn't be too hard. Right?
I mean, yes, I'm awful with putting stuff together. I usually end up in tears. And cursing. But I've matured since then.
I tore open the box--and immediately the cardboard dug into the flesh of my thumb.
Natalie's mouth dropped open. "That's not a friendly word!" she admonished me. "If we were at school, you'd be sent the office. With no recess."
I sucked on my wounded thumb. It was bleeding. I hadn't even started, and I was already injured And cursing.
"Let me get you a Band-Aid. A Frozen one," Natalie said grandly. She left the room while I began pulling out pink and purple pieces.
I cursed again. But it was okay, because Natalie wasn't around.
Seriously though. I paid almost $60. Why wasn't part of it already put together?
Natalie walked in and carefully placed an Olaf Band-Aid on my thumb. "You'll be okay," she told me seriously. She eyed all the pieces. "Can you DO this?"
I frowned. "Of course I can!" Was I teaching her that we needed a man to build stuff? "We don't need a man to build this." We are not a family that believes a man is head of the house or any of that. Girls can do anything boys can do. Except pee standing up.
I picked up the instructions. "Let's begin," I said in what I hoped was a confident voice.
But then I was immediately baffled. The first step had a photo of a piece I couldn't find in the pile of plastic. I dug around as Natalie tore open the bag that contained new dresses.
"My Barbies will LOVE these! They were just telling me to bring in new dresses. They're bored with the ones I have," she explained.
I dug around some more. Where was that confounded piece? Maybe they forgot to put it in?
A curse word played at the tip of my tongue. I wanted to say it. But I looked at Natalie surrounded by new dresses and swallowed it down. I don't want her to say when she's older, "I thought the f-word was a term of endearment growing up because Mom said it so often."
I eventually found the piece.
I began to build.
The thing is, I thought the Barbie mall was going to be small. I had cleaned off a little corner of Natalie's room for it to be stored.
"Where is this going to go?" I asked Natalie, peering around. We're in base housing, and base housing doesn't have a lot of space. Unless you're high ranking. I lust after the double garage in the higher enlisted area. Could we live off base? Yes. But I break lots of stuff, and if you live on base, you just have to call housing maintenance and someone comes and fixes the problem. For free. It's weird though. Tommy's bedroom is much bigger. Meanwhile, Natalie's room seemed to be built as an afterthought.
I was pleased that I had built the mall on my own, with minimal cursing. I did curse once more, because a piece wouldn't click together as it was promised to do. Then I realized the piece was upside down. Natalie told me, "Use friendly words please," in a prim voice.
Tom popped in and I went, "Look! I did it! Only I didn't realize it was so big."
He gestured to the box. "It says it's 4 feet."
"You know I don't understand math!"
"It..." Tom began, but then stopped because he probably remembered how numbers didn't really make much sense to me. "I would have helped."
"No. I have to do this on my own since you'll be leaving soon," I said diplomatically. He's deploying. Again.
I had to re-arrange Natalie's room. There is no extra space.
I posted this on Instagram, and it made the OCD people crazy. Sorry.
I built the Barbie Mall by myself!