On my lunch hour, one precious hour of freedom from my office chair, unchained from this keyboard, detatched from the phone, the one hour a day I breathe fresh air and eat real food, on this hour of lunching, I leave work and rejoin civilized society. And by “rejoin civilized society”, I generally mean race home, scarf a sandwich, race to my mom’s to visit with Avery for a few minutes before racing back to work. But once in a while, maybe one day in a span of two weeks, I’ll give up that down time to run some errands. Life with kids is hectic, even without appointments and sports, just life with them, and finding time to squeeze in errands is difficult, if not impossible. So sometimes I do a bit of erranding during my lunch hour.
Eirinn’s class is sponsoring a family for Christmas, as per usual, and so I chose today’s lunch hour to buy some toys for the kids. There’s a couple of boys and a younger girl. The girl would prove to be no trouble as I have two girls, one of whom is the same age, and girls are easy. Toy-wise, I mean, and also because I have extensive experience in both parenting (and therefore shopping for) and being a girl. But boys. Huh. I don’t understand boys. I don’t know what they like to play with, what they’re in to, what they won’t scoff at or be thrilled to receive. I have zero experience with boys in both parenting (and therefore shopping for) and being one. I have never done either.
Sure, I could just go up and down the action figure/vehicle/fake weapon aisle and find a boy and ask him what he’d like, but they teach kids about stranger danger these days and I’d more likely get a kick in the shins than an answer to my question, if the boy’s parents taught him right. So I asked around. I says to my legions of friends, I says “Friends. What do boys want? What do little boys neeeed?” And in unison, they all pronounced clearly and definitively “LEGO. Boys need Lego.” So I set off to procure some Legos.
What my leagues of friends failed to mention was that Legos are a tad pricey. Oh, that’s just silly. They’re not a tad dear, they’re bloody expensive. On the price tag, it doesn’t give an amount, it questions how much you have. “If you have to ask, you can’t afford me,” one particularly saucy box of Lego bits retorted when I muttered “how much are these damn things?” A small kit designed to assemble, say, a police car would set me back a cool $15, and that was where we began. A simple space ship type vehicle? $29.99. And heaven forbid I pick up one of the more advanced movie-based systems that I can imagine are at the peak of any boy’s wish list mountain. Do I have upwards of $100-$150 plus? No, poor kids I’m only trying to help, I do not. And for that I do apologize.
When I was young, perhaps 8 or 9, I received one Christmas a Rubbermaid container the size of a bathtub filled to the brim with loose Lego. It was within this Rubbermaid container that I found hours upon hours of endless fun. I would build homes and skyscrapers and entire towns, tear it all down and begin again, in a quest to create the best home and the best skyscraper and the best entire town. The Lego had once belonged to my older cousin and I got the whole lot once he outgrew playing with toys. I believe it was the one time I ever received a hand-me-down gift at Christmas, but that mattered not at all. It was Lego. The stuff doesn’t have an expiry date and the pieces made 30 years ago are the same as the pieces manufactured today. If not identical, comparable and certainly compatible.
I now understand clearly and fully why my parents accepted that secondhand gift to give to me. That Rubbermaid container held what I would guesstimate with my now-educated mind approximately $1,000 worth of coloured miniature bricks. Lego is gold and you don’t turn down an offer of free gold.
I left with nothing. I spent my lunch hour, my precious hour of freedom, wandering the aisles in two different stores, aimlessly and also with aim. I was there to purchase happiness for three little kids who might go without retail joy this holiday season if I don’t find something for Eirinn to take to school and I left with nothing. I was so consumed with searching for the most bang for my hard-earned buck for the two wee boys that I ran out of time to find something for even the easiest of the lot. I came away with nothing for the boys and also nothing for the girl.
I’ll try again another day. Maybe I’ll get those Hex bugs that are the new thing. Or some books. Kids should read more. It’s good for them to exercise their imagination. They’ll appreciate the sentiment when they’re older.