The Sweeper or Olin’s Depot Find

I love to visit The Depot, a non-prof secondhand store in Decorah. It is, in short, a perpetual garage sale that takes donations from the community and donates its profits to local charity organizations. There are amazing deals on utterly random things to be found on any given day. My kids love The Depot almost as much as I do, because I am far more likely to buy them a 25-cent item there than a $5-7 item at Wal-Mart. Last month, I took all four along with me for a visit.

Evangeline is (and always has been) a bit of a hoarder. She wants everything, and will fill a basket with every item that strikes her interest. I don’t object to the cart-filling because if you walk past an item and don’t pick it up, it will probably be gone when you come back around. I do, however, go through the basket and talk to her about what is the best value, or the thing she really wants the most. She never walks out with her whole basketload.

AJ is a clever politician. I have to give him a dollar amount limit (usually based on his accrued allowance). He will go find the items he most wants, then bring them to me and explain the benefits of each. If the price exceeds his available funds, he will lobby harder than any Washington politician for why he ought to have that particular item, and how he can pay for it with available allowance, future allowance, or any other means necessary. He’s a very convincing dude – I try to talk him back down to within his limit, though.

Seraphine mostly follows Evie around, seeing the same things Evie sees, but isn’t fast enough or assertive enough to claim them for herself. When she comes with me on her own, she isn’t usually very impressed with what’s available, but if Evie’s along, the idea that Evie got something she didn’t is cause for all kinds of drama. She generally gets a token item so there is less “She got something and I never get anything!” I like to hope so, anyway.

Olin has been, in the past, singularly unimpressed with The Depot. He doesn’t find much he’s interested in, and he makes it clear that he’d rather be somewhere else. On this particular visit, however, he found something amazing. (Yes, five paragraphs in to the entry, I am getting to the point. This is what happens when a blog is unedited.) I was standing in the basket section, debating whether or not I could justify yet another “organizational tool” when Olin came running up, clutching the handle of a red Fuller Brush Company Roto-Sweeper.

A Fuller Brush Co Sweeper in all its glory

“Mom, Mom! Mom! Mom-mom-mom-mom-mom!” he said, “Look what I found! Can I get this? Look!” He proceeded to demonstrate it for me, picking up a surprising amount of debris as he pushed it around the aisle, then flipping open the dustpan to show me how it emptied. I was a little confused. Of all the things in the store, he was excited about a sweeper? I looked at the price tag: $1.50. I have spent more on things my kids liked less – I figured it wasn’t too steep of a gamble.

“Sure,” I said. “We can get that.” He drove off happily, and proceeded to ‘sweep’ most of the store while I finished browsing, rounded up the rest of the kids, talked them down on their selections (as previously explained) and checked out. We brought the sweeper home, and I thought that’d be close to the end of it. I expected him to play with it once or twice, and forget it existed.

Once again, my Olin surprised me. He loves that sweeper.The first few days, he “swept” every inch of surface he could get away with. He spent hours in the basement, “sweeping”. Even a month later, he plays with it almost every day. He likes to find a very small, very dirty area to slowly and methodically sweep. If it’s not dirty enough, he will get some dirt or sand from somewhere else and add to the mess. Then, he’ll lie down on the ground and put his head right up to the machine, watching very closely as each grain of dirt is swept up, then emptying the dustbin in a pile and re-sweeping the pile. (All the while ignoring the “bigger picture” of the rest of the dirty room. He doesn’t see things that way.)

Today, I cleaned like a crazy person, trying to get ahead of all the things I need to do this week to prepare for hosting Thanksgiving. I tried to get the kids to help me as much as I could, and was reminded of Olin and his sweeper when he pulled it out and attempted to connect it to the vacuum cleaner, to do an “even better job”.¬† He was totally happy and he thought he was helping. Fair enough: I let him go. He “swept” and/or “vacuumed” a few small, specific spots for most of the afternoon. I finished the job when it was getting close to bedtime. He enjoyed it, and my house got cleaned eventually.

I have spent entirely too much money over the years on toys that are supposed to be “developmental”, “sensory”, “stimulating”, and other key therapy words. Olin’s favorite thing lately, though, has been a housework tool that he found at the secondhand store for $1.50. As long as he’s happy, I guess. It just amuses me to no end that it’s a piece of house-cleaning equipment.

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