As I Enter The Asylum,

this will be the last story that I ever tell.

It all started a couple of weeks ago. I had promised to meet two friends at The Wish Collection to do some shopping. I was excited, because I hadn’t been back since my original score (and had been hearing about the beautiful finds that many of you had bought.)

I pondered getting a babysitter, but I decided against it. After all, we were only going one place, I only have two kids, and I’d take entertaining electronic devices – how bad could it be?

I arrived a few minutes early, but the warehouse seemed closed.

I walked around the corner and pounded on the door.

The office looked dark.

With a bit more research while sitting in the parking lot in the most abandoned part of downtown, I finally had to call it: the warehouse was no longer there.

{So ignore my advice and don’t go there.}

It had indeed been the sale of a lifetime – and I wouldn’t be getting any more of that goodness.

(Unless by some miracle they return. That’s what I’m hoping.)

My friends arrived just as I was discovering the sudden departure of our shopping destination, so I had to tell them the sad, sad news.

They sat and pondered for a minute, then suggested we drive out to The Shops of Grand River.

Perfect!

My kids love the outlet mall, I love the outlet mall.

However, after the hour detour downtown, Noah was in no mood to shop.

He was in the mood to fuss, complain, to hysterically run in circles around the stores, and to lick. Everything.

He licked the mirror. The wall. The floor. His sister. Me. My friends. The other mirror. The other wall. Thank goodness the sales clerk never walked by too closely.

As I pondered how I could create a makeshift tongue tourniquet, I apologized to my friends.

“I have NO idea what is wrong with him! He has been completely orally fixated lately. Everything goes in his mouth or gets licked. You should have seen The Black Spot he licked a few weeks ago – on the tile floor of the Downtown Library.”

My friend who doesn’t have kids yet said, “Maybe he’s teething?”

“Oh. I hadn’t thought of that.”

I checked, (getting thoroughly bitten in the process,) and sure enough, a new molar was poking through his germ-infested gums like a needle in a hazardous waste bucket.

And that’s why you need friends who haven’t had kids yet. They come up with the simple answers.

So as an apology to Noah for dragging him on a detoured girl’s trip while he was in pain (and Ali for having to put up with it,) I took them next door to the toy store and offered to buy them each something small.

They took my direction quite literally – they chose Squinkies.

Squinkies are tiny, pleasingly tactile rubber toys. And when I say tiny, I mean size-of-Craisin tiny.

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In fact, Sally and Ramone had to be saved from the back of Noah’s newly-toothed jaws when he unknowingly picked them up with a handful of said Craisins.

(I got bitten for that one too.)

So Ali got random girly Squinkies, and Noah got Cars Squinkies.

I didn’t really care about Ali’s, because they were tiny creepy unicorns.

But the Cars ones – I was obsessed. They were adorable, detailed, and full of personality.

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Within two minutes of depackaging all twenty-four Squinkies, one was missing.

And he knew which one.

“Where’s Sarge?? WHERE’S SARGE??”

I searched and searched to no avail. I promised him that it hurt me more than it hurt him. After all, not having a full set of something (including, and sometimes especially, my kid’s toys) is nearly more painful to my psyche than a lack of continuity.

I tried to enforce supervised-Squinkie-play-only to prevent any further loss of life, but that only lasted for 72 hours.

And on the third day, Noah found the bag of Squinkies for private play.

And at the end of the third day, there were only six Squinkies remaining.

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It was as if someone ripped 18 rubber-car-shaped holes out of my heart. I languished in their loss, missing their tiny presence in our home with great sorrow.

I tried to let it go.

I tried to remind myself that they were just toys that were destined to get lost.

But I needed 24 Squinkies.

For three days and three nights I tried to forget.

On the sixth evening, I was talking with Chris. I looked past his shoulder and spotted a mirage on the end table.

No. It couldn’t be.

I interrupted his deep and lengthy thought with a squeal.

“Is that…is that SARGE?!?!?”

“Yeah. I found him between the couch cushions.”

“He’s been missing for a week!!! He was the first casualty!!”

The next morning, with hope and passion overflowing from my heart, I declared it to be Squinkie Search Day.

We started under the coffee table.

1 rescued.

Under the couch.

3 more.

On the train table.

2 more.

With each tiny rubber discovery, my soul burst with joy and victory.

We made it up to sixteen with scouring searches, but I needed those last eight.

And those last eight needed me.

I spotted a tiny shape slipping down to the bottom of Noah’s car basket.

I yelled to Ali with the urgency of a war mission.

“The Squinkies!! They’re in here!! I just saw Finn McMissile! AND THERE’S SALLY!!!!”

I began throwing Hot Wheels into my lap like I was digging a hole to escape a Chinese Prison.

Ali stared at me for a moment, then disappeared – and returned with my phone to take a picture.

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Every time I found one, I squealed with excitement and threw it in a bucket, not daring to let Noah near it.

Ali changed her angle to show the burgeoning state of my lap. And a tiny glimpse of the deranged state of my face.

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I put her to work counting and recounting tirelessly, giving me the new quantity every two minutes.

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And after every surface was cleared, every basket was declared Squinkie-free, and every inch of floor was investigated, we took a final count.

Squinkies 23

Although it was beautiful to see so many happy Squinkies in one place, It felt like failure.

Where was the last Squinkie? And who was missing??

I thought of one place it could be – and considered giving Noah some Miralax to get it back.

But as I was distracted, Noah decided that it was time for his inspection.

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Within seconds, the count had mysteriously decreased.

Squinkies 21

Did I mention that they bounce? With a very wide arc? And a very unpredictable trajectory?

I began grieving to the bottom of my toes.

I couldn’t handle another battle.

I couldn’t stomach another mission.

So I did what any logical person would do:

I logged onto Amazon and ordered 24 more.

Cars Squinkies

These babies are mint in package. And no one knows about them but me.

And no one need know about them but me. Got it?

The fact that I know I have them, all twenty-four of them, safely in my care, means that I can now leave Noah and his set alone.

Live and let lose, that’s my motto.

Oh – someone’s knocking on the door. I think it’s the nice men with the straightjacket.