I don’t know what it is, but every time I try to install, assemble, or set up some type of baby apparatus, I end up on the brink of a meltdown.
It started with the car seat. That exercise had my husband and I tearing the car apart in 90 degree heat as we tried to figure out whether to follow the car seat installation directions or the car manual, which of course, said opposite things about how and where best to install the car seat. Then it was the pack ‘n’ play. I still think it’s counter intuitive that you would have to put the sides up before pushing the bottom down. And you can forget about getting all the extras–diaper caddy, sunshade, mobile, etc.–back into the bag once you’ve taken them out.
My latest battle with the baby gear, however, was with the jolly jumper. Or at least that’s what I call it. I think it’s technically called an activity jumper these days. But whatever mommies call it, it’s basically a seat that you hang from the door frame. You pop your wee one in it and–BOING!–you’ve got a few minutes of hands-free time. Your wee one can amuse himself for a few minutes by jumping up and down while you fold laundry or empty the dishwasher.
So, today I decide I’m going to be the greatest mom in the world and set this thing up for baby. He’s big enough, strong enough, and I know for sure he’s going to love being in it. And selfishly, I really want to go through the pile of junk mail and shred a bunch of stuff.
I pull the Combi Activity Jumper out of the box and my first thought was, “Awesome! There are only three parts to this thing.” Oh, and it’s totally cute and goes with baby’s fun car-themed nursery. It took me about 10 minutes, after reading the directions, to put it together. I thought I was rockin’.
And then I tried to hang it.
The assembly directions said it fits most door frames. I should have learned by now that with my horrendous luck, anything that says “most” means “not mine.”
I first tried to hang it between my dining room and our library, which is this weird little parlor room that many houses from the early 1900s had. I figured this was a very strategic location; I could see him from both the kitchen and the living room. What I didn’t realize is that the pocket door that I found so charming when I bought my house made the doorway too wide for the jolly jumper’s pincher-like door-frame attachment.
Not to worry, I thought. I’ll just hang it on the door frame between the library and the living room. It’s in the same line of sight, so baby will still be well monitored as he bounces to his heart’s content. What I didn’t realize is that particular door frame is taller than the one on which I had first tried to install the jumper. Consequently, despite my struggle to lengthen the strap, it appeared baby would have to be the height of a 13-year-old to be able to sit in this thing and have his pudgy piglets touch the ground.
Well, then, I say to myself, I’ll just hang it upstairs. The door frames are much narrower, so I’ll have to take it down after every use, but I can deal, I think. But why would it be that simple? Turns out every door frame upstairs has a transom window on top of it, preventing any sort of clamp-like installation.
Now, I’d like to say that I was like, “No biggie, I’ll just send it back.” But if I’m honest, every failed installation doubled my frustration level. Add to the aggravation the fact that the baby began screaming for no apparent reason. Well, maybe he was starting to get hungry again. But still, it couldn’t have been worse timing.
At any rate, I dial up the company to ask about what the best way to send this thing back was. It was ordered through Babies ‘R’ Us but shipped from the manufacturer, so I had no idea where to send it so I could get a credit of some sort. No dice. The company is only open Monday through Thursday from 8:30am to 5:30pm and half days on Fridays.
To this point, I’ve managed to hold it together. I’m annoyed as all get out, but I’m calm. Until I try to get the damn thing back in the box.
As I mentioned, this activity jumper has all of three parts. And yet, after 20 minutes of wrestling with it, it’s still not in the box. I mean, I’m sweating–I’ve ripped off my sweater and thrown in somewhere into the living room–and I’m cursing. (This, of course, is making the baby bawl even more.)
The problem is the toy bar. I can’t get it to detach no matter how hard I wrench on the thing. I’m literally stepping on the seat and pulling up with all my force. At this point two things are going to happen: (1) It’s going to come off and I’m going to go flying onto my ass or (2) it’s going to break, I’m going to go flying, and then I’m not going to be able to return it. I decide that it’s better to stop yanking on it.
So, now I’ve got a jumper that I can’t use but that I can’t return because it won’t go back into the box. Never thought a toy car would drive me right to the brink.