Caroline’s special symbol at school, the one that tells her where to hang up her jacket and unpack her playground clothes, and where her toothbrush cup should sit, is a blue baby carriage. Caroline memorized this straight away and came home chanting “modrý kočarek” under her breath on the first day of school. She’s carriage obsessed anyway, and even though it isn’t my favorite accessory, I vowed to find one for her.
Doll baby carriages in Prague, if you haven’t priced them lately, cost an astronomical sum. The cheapest I've found is $50, and Sparky’s offers several over $100. I’m now searching the Vietnamese markets, hoping to find a gem buried under all the almost Barbies and I’ve warned my business partner that on our next trip abroad I’ll be springing into toy stores in hot pursuit.
Why the sudden fervor, you might well ask. You see, when Caroline first realized she had to go back to school every single day, she developed this act full of sobs and clinging fingers, to be presented at the classroom door each morning. She did this for three days, adding drama daily. Friday morning came. She picked up her backpack, I velcroed her shoes shut. Then I asked her to try being brave, to see how that played out. If it worked as well as I thought, five days of the same show would surely warrant a present. She thought about this, nodded and whispered into my ear - "a blue kočarek?"
A deal was made. The crying stopped. Even though she can’t count days beyond tomorrow, she still remembers the doll carriage. I found this design at a Flickr site* illustrating matchbox lids from the 40s and 50s. By the weekend, Caroline may have a real set of wheels to push around; for now she's got a carriage printed and posted above the bench where we put her shoes on each day, on the way to school yet again. The matchbox says, "everyone saves with PKO." I quite agree.
* Check out the Flickr site for more matchboxes, they are fabulous and mostly from our neck of the woods. My hat's off to the designer, Jane McDevitt, who found these and posted them to the web. She has an excellent eye.