Friday, January 02, 2009

The Discontent That is the Toy Store

Day two of the year 2009, and my boys are unhappy, blubbering messes.

What happened?  The received gift cards to a mega chain toy store as holiday gifts, and we finally took them over to see what their choices were.  (Might I add that I don't think an 8YO child should be given $50 to spend at a store?  I suppose that many children his age would purchase a video game and be done with it, but still, it is a lot of money.)

We went with the best of intentions.  They had thought about what they wanted ahead of time (Lego), and had planned to pool their resources.  But the store didn't have exactly what they had intended to purchase.  Soon they were wandering through the entire store, looking for something that might please them.  There were too many choices, most of them of poor quality.

Papa and I hate junk.  The boys hate junk too, at least they hate when it breaks.  This store was more of a junk store than a toy store; other than Lego items, most everything was junk.

We loathe mess and clutter too, and knew that the boys didn't have room to put some of the items that were catching their eyes.

But really, nothing grabbed them with fire.  The discontent grew and grew.  Would there be anything to get?  They were torn between wanting something right then and waiting to see if there were better options online.  One wanted to pool the money, one wasn't sure.  One moved into wanting everything he saw.  Then the general discontent set in; he was unhappy that he didn't have all of the things he was seeing.

I was immediately reminded of The Story of Stuff, and saddened to think that a young child could hear the message your life is not complete without this stuff so clearly.  It is one reason that we have chosen to keep our boys away from malls and advertising.

We left the store, came home, and looked online.  They were sold out of what the boys wanted. We had several hours of unhappiness, tears over little things, squabbling, and the like.  Finally it passed, the store and the gift cards were forgotten, and we moved back into equilibrium.

(The eventual solution was to choose a different Lego set online a few days after we left the store.)

Follow up 2017: My boys are 17 and 18 now, and we have never gone back to that mega chain toy store :)

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