“Mom, Mom, Mom... Mommy!”

Mom was not my first name, but it’s my favorite — most of the time. I look over at my two boys playing at the front of my watermelon trailer at the farmer’s market. They had one of their brand new camp chairs tipped over and were staring intently at the base. “Mommy!” my littlest kept hollering.

“What do you need?” I asked, as I walked over and peered at the chair legs with them.

“We can’t collapse it,” my oldest answered.

“It just squishes together, like the rest of our camping chairs,” I answered, picking up the chair and squeezing. The chair quickly made a liar out of me, as I pulled and pushed and stretched the canvas fabric.

Stupid chair is broken, I thought, trying to force it to collapse. Customers were lining up, and I didn’t have time to deal with a broken chair. I set it back down, “I’ll collapse it for you when the market is over.” Once again the chair made me lie. The market ended, and after packing up the bins and pallets — all the non-child items — I focused my attention on their two little camp chairs proudly displaying the WSU logo. I squeezed and pulled and pinched and shook them. Finally, with an exasperated sigh, I tossed the fully opened chairs into the back of the pickup. When I got home, I asked my husband if he could collapse them and put them back in their matching crimson carrying bags.

“You’d think they’d collapse like regular camp chairs,” he said, grimacing as he tried to make the chair legs fold together.

They were broken. Odd that they both broke the first time out of the bag — but at least they were fully set up and still functional. We put the cute but broken chairs in our camp trailer and forgot all about them.

Months later, I was doing a quick cleaning of the trailer. As I moved the little chairs to sweep under them, I noticed one of the caps on the leg base looked different from the other three. I picked up the chair and turned it over. It was wider than the rest, and looked to have a plastic washer in it. I pushed it, and suddenly felt the legs of the chair collapse. It was a child-safety mechanism. I picked up the other one, and just as quickly got it collapsed and was able to slide them both into their bags. Success at last!

That night, I had to take my husband out to show him my accomplishment. He groaned when I showed him the nearly invisible latch.

“This reminds me of the stroller at Disneyland,” he said. Now it was my turn to groan. Strollers are pretty impractical in the field, so my experience with them was little to none. My husband’s knowledge of strollers was maybe half a freckle more — meaning he thought he had pushed one at some point of his life — maybe.

Disneyland, however, seemed to be a good place to have one, and we’d picked one up right before our oldest son’s first trip to southern California — when he was 11 months old. It was collapsed and folded into a small, easy-to-pack bundle. Arriving at our hotel, we began unpacking and getting ready for our week at Disneyland. Out came the stroller. It took a few minutes to figure out how to open it up — and it took all week to get accustomed to pushing it — feeling very suburban motherly. It was good, though, a great place for my baby to nap — and an even better place to store all of our coats and jackets when the afternoon sun blazed down!

Too soon our vacation was over, and we were packing up — that’s when the stroller outwitted us. We pushed and pulled, twisted anything that moved, squeezed and pressed — but nothing we did would collapse that stroller. We sat on it, stood on it, tipped it upside down and sideways — and that stupid stroller happily defied us. I was ready to leave it behind, but my husband juggled all our luggage around to accommodate a fully opened stroller in the back of the pickup.

My husband picked up the little WSU chairs to put them away, and I couldn’t help but laugh. “We open and collapse hay rakes all the time, open and collapse hay clamps, squeeze and move balers into road position — and yet children’s items outsmart us every time.”

My husband looked at me and deadpanned, “Hydraulics — children’s items are missing hydraulics.”

Brianna Walker occasionally writes about the Farmer’s Fate for the Blue Mountain Eagle.

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