Prior to having a child, I proudly announced that I would not be one of those parents who buys My Child toys. That’s right, no toys at all. And yes, I even said it just like that, My Child in capital letters, to convey just the strength of my convictions.
Hell, if Calvin and Hobbes can go off on Martian adventures in cardboard boxes, surely my son can be creative. Toys, in my opinion, were a waste of money before a child is old enough to really appreciate them.
Like many notions I held prior to having a child, this one was quickly challenged by reality.
Flash forward to tonight, two years later.
Scene: Me pushing the shopping cart through Target, my son pointing at every toy and saying some variation of I want.
“I want the truck, I want the car, ooh, I want that (not even knowing what the toy he was pointing at was).”
I intended to just pick up a cheap car from the movie, Cars or a motorcycle, as he seems utterly fascinated by them.
While I was originally opposed to buying toys, I have come around. I enjoy giving him things he enjoys. E is a good kid and is not even close to being spoiled. He is active and we spend lots of time together, so I’m not concerned with the whole “making up for other parental deficits by buying toys” argument. And until tonight, he had never really pestered us for things he wanted.
Another vow I made prior to having a child — I will never bring My Child to the store with me. I am not going to be one of those parents teetering on the edge of sanity shouting or smacking the crap out of their kids in the middle of the store.
Yet, here I am, bringing my son to the store. A store with toys no less!
I want, I want, I want, I want.
Once in the toy aisle, E HAD TO HAVE one of the more expensive Cars vehicles on the shelves — a Dinoco Racing Team which includes a truck (that he thinks is Mac) and trailer, a car and a mini-forklift. Though it’s not a whole lot bigger than a standard Matchbox car, it cost nearly $20.
The look in his eye as he examined the box was priceless, though. So, I bought it. (sucker!)
Though I am sure my wife will be upset once she reads how much the truck cost, my will melted immediately when I saw how much E wanted it.
As we drove home, he held the box in his car seat, turning it over, tilting his head just so, and examining it. It seemed as if he were imagining the truck out of the box and on his living room floor. It’s the first time I saw him respond like that to a toy. Though, he did do sing “Sally, Sally, Sally, Sally” and dance around the house when I brought home a Sally car last month (also from the movie, Cars, in case you are among those not yet forced to see every Pixar movie).
So, there we sat on the floor playing cars together and I watched him. One of my favorite things to do is watch E when he tunes everybody else out and is playing by himself. I love watching his imagination develop as he recreates things from his experiences.
So, I didn’t feel too bad about spending $20 since we don’t do it often and he is not a demanding child.
Then, about 20 minutes later, the rug came flying out from under me.
“Another Mac?” he asked.
“Another Mac? Go to Wal-Mart, get another Mac?”
Apparently, he wanted to go back and get one of the other trucks that were there, including the actual red Mac truck.
I told him we didn’t go to Wal-Mart, we went to Target and no, we can’t just go get another truck.
“Daddy, go to store?” he asked. When I said no, he then shouted “Daddy go to store!”
Thank God my wife wasn’t home. I’m sure she’d give me one of those, “see what you started?” glares.
So, I pulled E aside and sat him on my lap and tried my best to explain that we just can’t go to the store and get things we want. They cost money. And that particular truck cost daddy a lot of money and daddy doesn’t have enough money to go get more trucks.
I know it’s difficult, if not impossible, to explain a concept like money to a two year old. Yet, I tried my best.
“Do you understand?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said, in his soft, hoarse voice, eyes big, wide and sweet.
And it was a sweet moment.
We sat back down and played with his cars. Well, for 10 minutes, anyway. Then he was back at the door asking, “go to store?”
Edit: That was the original ending to this post. However, an even better one. Guess who woke up at 5:40 a.m. wanting to play “Cars.” Yup, you got it.
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