After a plaything inventory over the weekend, we decided that
Mom and Dad the Twins were growing bored with our current toy selection, so we took Double Trouble for their first ever visit to Toys “R” Us. (Don’t worry, I was sure to alert them to the store name’s grammatical usage error. Papa is not inclined to raise any fools, you all.)
I had not been to a Toys “R” Us for years, and as I crossed the threshold, was promptly reminded how much I don’t wanna grow up. Although I’m quickly closing in on three decades of John, one of the perks of parenting is the justification for purchasing badass toys without appearing to be The Simpsons’ Comic Book Guy. So many groundbreaking advances in toy technology have been made since I was last in the market for toys years ago, and I attribute this to Toy Succession, a principle I am just now making up, positing that toys are improved as each generation grows up and applies changes they wish they had when they were children, ultimately allowing already-awesome toys to become uber-awesome.
For example, when I was a child Legomaniac, there were only three Lego genres on the market: Town, Castle, and Space. Now, a glimpse at the Lego section of a toy store features too many to count, including Star Wars, Harry Potter, SpongeBob Squarepants, and even Ninjas! Gone are the days of having to imagine that a black space helmet is a ninja mask. Just as the iPhone probably has “an app for that,” Lego has a piece for that.
During the course of the We Are Toys visit my wife and I got separated, which is easy to do amidst such fine merchandise, especially as a new parent fueled by the excitement of sharing it with our kids and getting that genuine, unbridled ear-to-ear smile we parents feed off like addicts. I was flying solo with the shopping car, while my wife was rollin’ hard with the double stroller and thus, the Twinfants. When I finally caught up with the rest of my family, I found my daughter glomming intently on a Sesame-Street-themed piece of cardboard packaging, with the back side facing up. “What’s that you have there, little girl?” I asked.
For those who are not parents, this is a fun thing we do when requesting information–directing the question to the baby who cannot reply sufficiently while the other parent (who actually knows the answer and, as an added bonus, can verbalize it) is in earshot.
My wife spoke for my daughter. “A stuffed Elmo. I showed it to her to see if she liked it and she just grabbed it and started chewing it.” As mentioned previously, the Twins, like legions of other half-pints, are card-carrying members of Elmo’s Army.
“Cool! Can I see it, little girl?” I inquired, reaching for it.
My daughter’s eyes welled up as I approached the package, and I heard the slow, growing rumble of a tiny freakout. “No, don’t!” My wife hissed. “I already tried to take it. She flipped out. I think we need to take it home.”
I know it’s still early to say this, but I don’t plan on being one to cave just because my kids will cry if I don’t buy them something. Having survived their first colds and the recurring perils of teething, I’ve become relatively desensitized to crying. I’m not saying I’m immune–it’s been scientifically proven that a crying baby upsets anyone–both parents and non-parents. All I’m saying is my adventures as a stay-at-home dad have granted me the power to keep a cool head, even in the face of tears in stereo. On this particular day, both kids happened to be teething hard, so I had no problem with my daughter gnawing on this item–whatever it was–as long as it would quell the day’s tenth tantrum.
“It’s that one,” my wife continued, indicating a colony of “My First Elmos” on the shelf.
I’d already resigned myself to purchasing Her First Elmo, adhering to the axiom of “You break it, you buy it,” or my favorite incarnation of the saying, which we found on a poorly-translated-to-English sign in an Asian restaurant a few years back:
I checked Elmo’s price tag and found a dollar amount to my liking–in fact, I would have willingly bought the toy anyway. No harm, no foul.
However, we came close to a meltdown when wrenching Everyone’s Favorite Monster out of our daughter’s clenched fists as choke-able cardboard/saliva flakes peeked from the corners of her mouth. With a swift, Indiana Jones switch, I thrusted a wad of toy keys into her tiny fingers just after extraction, with limited tantrum-mercial interruption, while my wife inspected her mouth for debris.
Having reflected on this occurrence, particularly my wife’s reasoning, I got to thinking about its implications.
On a completely unrelated note, there is a possibility that tomorrow, I will spontaneously decide to take the Twins to the Apple Store at our local mall. If, during the course of the purely-for-browsing-purposes-only excursion, I happen to show my teething daughter an iPad “to see if she likes it” and “she just grabs it and starts chewing it,” it will not at all be my fault, but I will tragically and begrudgingly be forced to purchase the item, as the pristine Feng Shui Apple packaging will surely be ruined.
Don’t tell my wife.
But if she does happen to get word, I will have the landmark decision of Daughter v. Board of ElmoCasing as a precedent.
As an added precaution, I may or may not slip my daughter the receipt post-purchase.
After all, I wouldn’t want her to make a scene. It may upset the Geniuses.
You may also enjoy:
If not, wow! Check out this piece of cardboard! That looks pretty tasty.
I stumbled through the door, clumsily and one-handedly maneuvering 30 pounds of son/carrier across the threshold while catching the diaper bag with my other hand, just before it leapt off my shoulder and spilled its contents all over the filthy floor.
While I understand the establishment of Well Child and Sick Child Entrances at our pediatrician’s office, I despise the times I’m asked to use the Sick side. Not only does my poor little boy already have a weakened immune system—you are asking me to bring him into an environment sure to be teeming with What’s Hot in the Child Sickness Community. I tried to touch as little as possible as I made my way to reception.
Having checked in, I was about to take a seat, but was struck by a lightning bolt sent by Zeus, god of the brainstorm.
“Excuse me, I was just wondering, do you have some sort of card I can get punched or stamped or something?”
“You know, like a frequent flyer type deal, like they do at sandwich and frozen yogurt joints? Just asking because this is my fourth time here in the last month, so I thought maybe my fifth visit might be free.”
“Um, no, sir. We don’t really do that here.”
“Oh, okay. Just thought I’d ask. You know, maybe you should bring that up with your supervisor. You can say it’s your idea.”
I turned to take a seat, but was once again graced by Zeus’s Wisdom.
“Sorry, I just had another question.”
“I’m not sure if you have this down there in your files, but my son’s a twin.”
“Well, I was wondering if you have any promotions. Like, for multiples. Possibly a buy-one-co-pay, get-one-free? I mean, I know I only have him today—his sister’s with my mom—but this is just for future reference.”
“Um, no, sir. We don’t really do that here, either.”
“That’s cool. No big deal. Just wanted to ask. ‘Cause I’ve been burned before. I’ll get home and present the bounty of supplies I’ve procured to my wife and she’ll look at the receipt and ask if I got the ‘twin discount’ and, of course, I didn’t, because I didn’t ask. Then, I gotta go back to the store and get the discount at customer service. Because we’re on a budget. See, I’m a stay at home dad, so we only have one income.”
“No. We don’t have a multiples discount.”
“All right, no problem. Thanks so much.”
“Okay, sorry, I know you’re busy, and yes, I do see the line forming behind me.”
“What if I decided I wanted to pay more now for certain benefits later?”
“I don’t know.”
“Like a FastPass, like at Disneyland? Let’s say I give you—I don’t know—a hundred dollars, and whenever I come in, I get jumped to the top of the list because I have a FastPass.”
“Sir, we have an appointment system, so we can’t move people’s appointments around.”
“Sure you can. You do it all the time. The last few times I was here, I waited with my sick kids undressed and freezing in the cranked-up AC for an hour, after waiting out here in the waiting room for a half hour, which means I saw the doctor an hour and a half after my appointment time. Plus, you guys can do whatever you want. Have you ever seen that Curb Your Enthusiasm episode where Larry complains about—”
A voice from the patient room door called, “Pseudonymous?” It was the moment every parent waits for—a set of cartoon-themed scrubs actually calling their child’s name to see the doctor.
“Well,” I smiled. “That’s me. Thanks for your help. Good talking to you.”
I nodded cockily at the other waiting parents. My turn, suckers.
When I got in the beach-themed patient room, I was asked to strip down my son except for his diaper. I pulled out a blanket from the diaper bag, wrapped him up, and waited for 45 minutes.
You may also like:
If not, don’t wait for 45 minutes in the freezing AC. Just check out some other ones. Consider this your FastPass.