When I was a kid, my favorite store in the world was Toys “R” Us. Then I grew up.
For a parent, the Toys “R” Us experience begins before you get there.
First, you make your kids write thank-you notes to the very generous relatives who graced them with gift cards. You spend five days holding stationery in front of your children until they eventually grab a pen and admit defeat.
Then, and only then, do you drive to the store.
That ride to Toys “R” Us feels like an eternity. Your kids are so amped, they are frothing at the mouth. Unfortunately, their nearest targets are each other.
“He grabbed my shoe!”
“No way! She kicked me!”
At this point, you pull the car over and put on your mean face. Glaring into the back seat, you growl, “Cut the shenanigans or we’re going home!”
That buys you 10 minutes of savored silence.
All too soon, you arrive. As soon as you walk through the sliding doors, you’re assaulted by fluorescent light. You choose a cart with a sticky handle and prepare to buy more stuff from China.
But oh, are your children happy! They zoom off while you are blinded by a gigantic Justin Bieber poster. Does anyone’s face really need to be that big?
More importantly, do tweens and teens still shop at Toys “R” Us? If so, that just added 10 years to your purgatory.
Whoops! While you were wallowing in self-pity, your son disappeared into the Lego aisle. Your daughter is in a full-body lean, tugging at your arm and dragging you away.
No, she doesn’t want to wait for her brother. No, she’s not interested in Lego Friends.
Bargaining ensues. You get out your watch and set an imaginary timer. With your daughter, there’s a short but important conversation about patience and waiting.
With your son, there’s a lesson about BOGO. Quickly you review percentages, decimals and the sneaky lure of promotions.
Next stop, the pink aisle. Barbie, princesses, cheerleader outfits; it all makes you want to throw up.
You try briefly to get your kids interested in the Melissa &Doug section, but it’s a half-hearted attempt.
Actually, you’re really annoyed with that brand for never including lids with their toys. For Pete’s sake! That would make cleanup so much easier!
Finally you’re at the checkout and freedom is moments away. That’s when the golden moment comes that makes up for all of the rest.
Your son is $10 over his gift card allotment. He whips out his wallet and carefully counts his allowance. Then he forgoes a pack of Pokemon.
Watching your son be careful with his own money is priceless.
OK, maybe this trip to Toys “R” Us wasn’t so bad after all.
Jennifer Bardsley is an Edmonds mom of two and blogs at teachingmybabytoread.com.