Since my youngest just turned 16 and isn’t into “toys” so much these days, I don’t go to Toys Are Them much any more. But I went there this week looking for a couple of things on the birthday list (video games) they have there. That triggered several stray thoughts, some nostalgic.
- One of my all-time favorite comic strips was one from “For Better or Worse” in which the oldest boy had a friend come to visit, and the friend picked up the boy’s teddy bear and made a comment about it. The boy said something like, “That old thing?” and tossed it aside. Then after his friend left, the boy picked up his teddy bear and hugged it. That just perfectly encapsulated the sometimes boy/sometimes becoming a man aspect of boys growing up.
- A few years ago I was going through my youngest son’s room trying to clear some of the clutter and get rid of things he no longer played with. He had a big basket full of stuffed animals, and he had a friend over at the time, so I thought that might be a good time to go through the animals — with his friend there he might be more likely to think of them as “childish” and get rid of them. But as we went through them one by one, his friend, very much an all-boy, rough and tumble type, kept saying, “No, you can’t get rid of that! That’s so cute!”
- I don’t know if all of the Toys Are Them stores are like this, but with ours you have to go down the whole length of the store and then through the seasonal stuff to get to the main part of the store. Hate that. Especially when what I want is near the entrance, but I’ve got to go all over the place to get to it.
- When my kids were little they thought of the toy store almost like an amusement park. It was fun just looking through things and going to all the different departments.
- I generally avoid going there on Saturdays when it is crowded and noisy. Weekday mornings are ideal.
- I miss Little Tykes and Fisher Price. I get wistful just walking by their aisles.
- The things our kids played with long after other toys were laid aside were Legos, Transformers (even before the current revival due to the movies), and Nerf guns. They had a Nerf bow and arrow set they played with for years. I looked at Nerf stuff that day at the store, but I think interest in them has been replaced by paintball and airsoft guns. I almost got a little wistful walking by the Lego stuff. One Jesse wanted but never got was a big Star Wars ship. I looked at it yesterday and it was $129. Cough, cough, cough. Much as we loved Legos, I just never could justify that amount.
- Must everything be branded? I didn’t mind buying some things with their favorite characters on them when they were little, but good grief. Everything has current popular TV characters or stars on it. Years ago a friend decorated her daughter’s room all in the current Disney film stuff, and I thought, “What are you going to do when the next film comes out?”
- We use “wish lists.” A family that I admired and respected did that, and I thought it was a good idea. I love to give what people want and would like. The kids were made to understand they wouldn’t get everything on the list and they might get some things not on the list, but the list was a general guideline. I used to be able to stray off the list with some good guesses when they were younger, but not so much these days. Part of that is due to the more technological stuff they’re into now, part of it is that the stuff they’re interested in now is more expensive, so I am less likely to take a chance on it.
- My mom loved to give as well — I am sure that was her “love language,” though I don’t know if I would say it is mine. One of the most memorable gifts we received from her for the kids was a heap of Little People stuff — the old fashioned kind before they started making the squatty-bodied ones to avoid little kids choking on them. When Mom had asked me for ideas, I mentioned maybe one of the sets for the boys as a group — a Little People Farm, Little People Garage, Little People Main Street, etc. But she got one set for each boy instead of one for all of them to share, and then got a bunch of sets of just the people, which my sister Shelly wrapped individually as stocking stuffers. That was fun. My husband said we needed a whole room just for the Little People.
I know that “putting away childish things” is a part of growing up, and I am enjoying the young men our boys are becoming, but I have to admit I do miss buying toys. And the little girls’ aisles — I only got to go through those when my guys were going to a birthday party or when my nieces were small. That is one aspect of having grandchildren that I am going to love….someday….though not the most important aspect, of course. Meanwhile, I’ll just wax a little wistful in the toy store.