Tonight I had the joyful opportunity to visit that sacred holder of all children’s hopes and dreams– the toy section at WalMart. I have to confess that I hate WalMart. Not because I think it is the Evil Destroyer of All Things Capitalistic, but because it’s always busy and full of rude people who just blast down the aisle with their cart and don’t even say “Excuse me” as you and your six year old frantically hide behind a display of water noodles. Because if they used manners it would have taken them .13 seconds longer to reach the Inflatable Pool aisle, which would have been tragic because everybody knows that when you suddenly get that urge to blow up a circle of plastic and fill it with two inches of water, well, you’d just better not wait or life might end.
Apparently I was harboring a bit of bitterness. I feel better now.
Anywho, I really don’t like going to WalMart because of its Evil Brain-Sucking Ability to convince me that I need a new shirt, fake nails, and an oil change when I really just went in to get a loaf of bread. And it’s even worse when I have the kids with me, because while I am savvy to the siren call of cheap sunglasses and overpackaged plastic toys made in China, my children have not yet learned to plug their ears and run away.
I had to go to WalMart tonight though, because Ryan is going to a birthday party tomorrow and even though he spent an hour today cutting out a red paper car to give to his friend, I’m pretty sure the average 7-year-old boy is looking for a little something more inside the wrapping paper than, well, more paper. Plus we needed a few food items to get us through the weekend.
Ryan’s first choice for a gift for his pal Nate was a Star Wars Lego set that cost $89. Which, cool, but we don’t even spend that much on the kids for their own birthdays. Then he thought a jumbo pack of water balloons or a set of four squirt guns would be cool, but I really don’t want to be the Mother Everyone Hates, so I nixxed the idea. I mean, can you imagine the revenge gifts Ryan would get if I let him start bringing water weapons as birthday presents? Like the giant talking, light-up, scary robot he got when he turned five wasn’t bad enough.
Our entire trip through Toy Purgatory was punctuated by Ryan’s oh-so-subtle hints. “Oh, Mommy! I’ve been thinking about needing a water gun!” Right. I’ve been thinking about needing a Valium. And you know what? Neither of us are getting what we’ve been thinking about needing.
Eventually, after many amazing suggestions (he went from the $89 Star Wars Legos to a $5 airplane marked “ages 1 and up”), we settled on a four-pack of toy motorcycles, which Ryan was excited to read were “Made in China.” My kids are always excited to discover that their toys were made in China. Sammy can read three words: Sammy, Ryan, and China. We went looking for wrapping paper, which we couldn’t find because apparently they don’t make wrapping paper in China and therefore WalMart no longer carries it.
But never fear. We didn’t get wrapping paper, but we did get two packs of hot dogs, two packs of hot dog buns, a loaf of bread, a bunch of bananas, two frozen pizzas, a new outfit for Gracie, a pair of water shoes for me, and a set of those juice-pop making things.
WalMart, how I loathe thee.