More than a decade ago, I was an employee at a RadioShack in a Salt Lake City mall. I used to get frustrated when I saw parents come into the store with their kids and let them loose on all the remote controlled cars and other toys that we carried.
RadioShack employees, at that time at least, worked on commission. We were also required to help every customer who came into the store regardless of whether that customer wanted help. What that meant was those parents, with their kids running around playing with every toy in the store, were costing me money.
What I didn’t understand way back then was that those parents were just trying to protect a little bit of their sanity.
When Addie was little, we would go to a few stores on the weekends as a family and while we were in the stores we would split up to various sections. I loved looking at the TVs and other electronics or meandering about looking at basketball shoes or other items and Casey liked to check out women’s clothing. When I was done looking at whatever I was looking at, I would find Addie and Casey in the toy section playing with toys. It seemed awfully dangerous in my mind. It was like taking me to a donut store while I was on a diet. I believed it was just a matter of minutes before Addie would demand all the toys in the store and if she didn’t get all the toys in the store she would have a monumental meltdown. However, that meltdown never happened because the toy aisle had become part of their routine.
Here I am several years later with a new toddler and a with a wife who is gone pretty frequently. I have now learned the art of taking the child to the store and finding the toy aisle. That toy aisle means at least 30 minutes of peace for me and it doesn’t matter what kind of mood Vivi is in. That toy aisle is like a magical land that cures all grumpiness.
Last week I took a very grumpy Vivi to the local Kohl’s to get a little break from all the screaming that had been coming out of my 2 foot tall child. While we were there, another dad brought his kids to the toy section to do the exact same thing. His two kids spread out in the section and began pulling toys from the shelves so they could sit on the floor and play with them. The dad pulled out his cellphone and began surfing the interwebs. Ten minutes later, a mother brought her kids to the toy aisle and joined the party. As each parents’ kids were done playing with the toys, the parents would put the toys back on the shelves in their assigned locations. Eventually the other two parents in the toy aisle told their kids it was time to go and they all got up and walked away from the toy aisle like their visits were regular occurances.
Turns out, a store’s toy aisle is a well-kept secret amongst parents.
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