I’m not sure if it is the flashbacks from my childhood or the fact that my kids will be rid of their video game temptations, but back-to-school time gives me warm fuzzies way down deep. New backpacks, new pencil cases, new shoes, new educational ways to keep my kids’ brains from atrophying from prolonged exposure of “The Regular Show”– yay for back-to-school time!
This year, I was once again invited by Westfield Brandon to do some back-to-school shopping on Florida’s tax-free weekend. (Cue happy dance!) And, let me tell you, I had a serious must-get a list: shoes, backpacks, clothes, socks (HOW do they manage to wear so many holes in socks?), and jackets all needed to be bought.
I am going to be real with you, however. Sure, this is a sponsored post, but there are legit reasons why I love shopping at Westfield Town Centers. Here they are:
Westfield Town Centers put families first. I was impressed by that fact last year and I continue to be this year, too. We went in the Family Playhouse space three times over the course of the day. There is a quiet atmosphere, comfortable couches, a TV, a kitchen area, private nursing areas and a family bathroom. Shopping is exhausting and over-stimulating, especially on a tax-free weekend. We needed to power down in there, it had to happen and this was the perfect spot.
Westfield also has a bunch of play areas for younger kids. And who can forget the AMAZING carousel in the middle of the Center, and even the bungee fun being offered, too. You can shop, play, shop, play, eat, shop, play. I don’t think my boys could have lasted as long without that general activity pattern.
Westfield also offers programming for families on a regular basis. Check out what’s happening here.
Westfield Town Centers give you options and sales. I am always amazed by how many stores there are at Westfield Brandon. That place goes on and on and on. And then we were pleasantly surprised by certain stores. For instance, our first stop was at The Children’s Place because I needed to buy a gift. Hold on, there were clothes big enough for my 7 and 10 year old! I didn’t know that! We wound up buying my 10 year old the COZIEST zip-up hoodie with this fuzzy lining that will be perfect for winters here and trips north. It was, by far, his favorite purchase of the day (even if he was too cool to pose for it so here’s my seven year old holding the bag).
Westfield Town Centers have fun. While we were there, they were offering fun contests, games and make-overs. I saw lots of people involved and trying them out. The staff there were fun and welcoming and nice to kids when their $5 bill wouldn’t go into the token-making machine. (Thanks for the exchange for a crisper one!) Even the security guard tried to make my husband his new buddy while he poured over the map.
Westfield Town Centers offer you more than a food court. I have no beef with a food court, sometimes a quick stop has to happen. But I love how their restaurants are slightly separated from the Center and set in a pretty, landscaped area. It’s a nice reprieve and it is right there on site. We inhaled our food at Red Robin and got right back to it.
Westfield Town Centers give away shopping sprees! Westfield Brandon is currently offering families a chance to win a $1,000 back-to-school shopping spree! Hello, can you imagine how much that could help a family out? Be sure to enter here!
So, sure, our day utterly exhausted us (yes, the crowds were something to behold, as expected) and after five hours of hard-core shopping, I thought I broke my family.
But we really had a great time. My seven year adores his new Ninjago hoodie and Perry the Platypus shoes. My ten year old will be rocking an awesome backpack sure to withstand the rigors of fifth grade and really nice sneakers that won’t disintegrate on week one. There’s something to be said for “having fun” while you go back-to-school shopping, and we did.
Disclosure: I am working directly with Westfield. I am being compensated as an independent blogger. All opinions expressed in this content are mine.
I spent part of my day at Westfield Mall in Citrus Park yesterday. Yup, I was on another mission to see what is happening right now at one of my favorite malls. Not surprisingly, they had some new updates to share. So, now I am sharing these with you!
I swear it says Citrus… not Cipus.
The Westfield App
The folks at Westfield asked that I try out their new smartphone app. Well, I downloaded this new app and wound up using it before I even got INTO the mall. Why? I wanted to know which part of the parking lot had the most direct access to Starbucks. It worked. It also showed me what deals and discounts are happening at which stores in the mall. I could search by deal or type of store or search for a store and then find what deals are happening there before I head over. It also has a concierge option where you can ask it questions like: “WHERE ARE THE COOKIES?” And it told me to go to Blondies Cookies. Hooray! It would be kind of cool if it got more social and had some ways to see which of my friends had checked in to which stores or if any friends were hanging with their kids at the play area. Maybe someday… Oh and this app is FREE and can be used at any Westfield Mall. Learn more or download it here.
Westfield Malls are ALL about families. At Westfield Mall in Citrus Park, they offer Westfield Family Fun Days every third Thursday of the month at 4pm. They also offer a number of other events and promotions for families hosted by various mall retailers. Learn more here. Tampa folks: the next Family Fun Day is happening this coming Thursday, September 20th at 4:00pm!
Great play areas with cute kid-sized tables nearby.
But you know what really impresses me most about Westfield Malls? The family friendly spaces. In particular, the Family Rooms where there are clean, comfortable spaces for little ones to play and watch a little TV. They also have comfortable, private breastfeeding areas for moms. I know that back when I was breastfeeding on the hour, a lounge like this would have made an outing to the mall MUCH less overwhelming with my kids. Great job with this, Westfield. Other great spaces are the play areas — one of which is going to be newly renovated later in October at Citrus Park.
Family Lounge at Westfield Mall in Citrus Park
My kids and I had a blast yesterday. Shopping is much less of a pain when the kids have fun things to do, too.
I will leave you with this last cool bit of knowledge. Photobooths have gone social! For $5, my kids and I got three strips of cute pics and I got the chance to post them to Facebook, Twitter AND (for an additional fee of $1.49) upload the video of our picture taking session to YouTube!
I am working directly with Westfield. I am being compensated as a member of the WFamily Influencer Program.
From time to time, I enjoy using my blog to get to know various products and services–and then shout my thoughts here as objectively and honestly as I can. My next adventure brings me to the mall, actually. Westfield Malls, to be exact. Over the next few months, you will be hearing from me as a WFamily Local Influencer. I’ll be sharing my experiences in their local malls once in awhile and hope to give you some good, outsider intel about what is going down there.
My first adventure happened about a week ago when my family did some Back-To-School shopping at the Westfield Mall in Brandon, Florida. Check this out, I have lived in the Tampa area for about 8 years and I had never been there! So, I got to scope the whole place out as a newbie. I also got to check a bunch of items off my list with a very appreciated gift card, thanks to the folks at Westfield.
I know *I* was fired up to get as much as I possibly could.
And I say “I” because, admittedly, my kids aren’t really into shopping. It bores them, they will wear anything, they just want to chase each other through racks of clothes and then they wind up getting yelled at a lot–so, as a family, shopping isn’t always a fun thing.
But I was pleasantly surprised by this mall. Why? It made shopping with the kids FUN. No, I mean it. Sure, sure, the kids still had to behave in stores and try things on and not knock over racks of clothes but, thanks to well placed play-areas, food stops and one gorgeous carousel, the kids actually had a great time.
One highlight was a stop at ShakeOut where we were given milkshakes to try. These aren’t your typical milkshakes, either. They actually blend all kinds of goodies right in: cookies, cake, candy, Skittles, marshmallows… you name it. Holy crap, I died from the delish. SO, SO good. And if you live near the Brandon, Florida area — PAY ATTENTION — I have milkshakes to give away…
So, back to the mall. Sure, it was crowded. Sure, we got tired. But we got everything we needed without killing each other. All of my favorite shopping spots were there (including great affordable anchor stores for the kid “basics”), there were good spots to stop for coffee and kid-playing, and lots of restaurants for real meals (other than pretzels and milkshakes and the rest).
WIN A SHOPPING SPREE
Interested in winning a shopping spree for yourself? Westfield is hosting a $500 Back-to-School shopping spree on their Facebook page. This isn’t limited to Florida residents, of course. Check out all of the Westfield mall locations found nationwide. Enter their contest here.
Also, want to try out those AMAZING milkshakes I was raving about earlier? I have four milkshakes to give away. Comment below that you want them. I know you do… so comment (even if it’s simply “I WANT MILKSHAKES!”) and I will pick a winner at random on August 14th. I’ll be emailing the winner for a mailing address so I can send the passes for free shakes.
Stay tuned for more about Westfield malls!
And here’s where I write my disclosure:
I am working directly with Westfield. I am being compensated as a member of the WFamily Influencer Program.
So. We need some funny up in here. It’s time. I hope my Facebook friends forgive me for posting this picture twice. But it seems exactly what this blog needs. Some help. A helpful hand, if you will.
All I needed was a chin strap for a baseball helmet. I knew exactly where I would find it in Dick’s — so I marched right over to the baseball section with my kids trailing behind. I was less than five minutes into my quick shopping pit-stop when I heard my seven year old yell: “Mom!!!” I turned around to see what he was pointing at and this is how I found my youngest child:
I was a Barbie freeeak when I was younger. I’m not sure what it was exactly about those dolls. It certainly was not about the whole fashion, try her in a million outfits thing. Sporting some outrageously colored, polyestered, peter pan collared hand me downs and tinted glasses – while a victim of it, I was not very concerned with fashion. For me, I think my obsession was having a little adult that I could put into made up situations. It was about wondering what it would like to be a grown woman someday. And so I created these elaborate story lines about going on trips and meeting people and having a job with a real computer (a novelty back then) and doing grown-upish things.
Did I yearn to be the blond, unrealistically proportioned bean pole that she represented? Well. Not consciously. Do I think Barbie sets unrealistic body image ideals in girls minds? Um, yeah I do.
But I still loved playing with them. And the glorious imaginary world I created (and escaped into) with them was worth whatever mind melding she did to me. Yeah, I hate my baby belly and wished I could tighten up some and my chest is so far from the example she set for me… but whatever. Barbie was a blast!
And back then, my Barbie came something like this.
The other day I gathered my courage and braved Toys R Us. I rarely set foot in there. It gives me a headache. Too much plastic. Maybe its a BPA thing.
But it’s that time of year again (you know – the most wonderful time of the year?), so I headed in during a rare child-free moment. And. I will admit something. When I walked past all those aisles in Toys R Us, I slowed right down when I saw all the pink.
The Barbie Aisle.
I remember all of those wistful moments spent in the pink aisle of Toys R Us as a little girl, day dreaming about all the cool Barbies and extras and houses and cars and horses and fun I could have. So I couldn’t help but sneak a peak and see whats in there. Yes, even with the stupid body image crap that I so wish Barbie didn’t perpetuate, I would have bought Barbies for my daughter if I had one.
So there I was the other day. Checking out the goods, slightly wistful, at the ripe old age of 36.
And that’s when I saw this new Barbie being sold.
What the hell?
(And please note. She has been turned demurely here for the pic. The plunge is much “plungier” when seen full frontal, so to speak.)
Ok, so I could forgive the big boobs and wasp like waist before because Barbie was wearing clothes that actually covered up those distorted parts. For the most part. But this one? Wearing “a striking black dress with plunging neckline”???
Oh no. Not ok. Sorry Barbie. A dress cut down to your navel is not part of the Barbie world I come from. Nor should it be for any little girl. I just can’t push my feminist tendancies aside for this (must crack horrid holiday pun here… wait for it…) “Ho Ho Ho” look.
And so is the slightly oversized, Brat doll-esque head that gives the illusion that her strangely disproportionate body is even tinier than it was before. Yep, Barbie has slimmed down so much, her head – with hardly much substance to hold onto – may loll off its own body and roll away.
Don’t call this fashion. Don’t call this keeping up with your market. Don’t call this anything but a reeeeally bad idea. Oh. And you know what else I’d call this doll.
Do you know that feeling when you watch reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and you see amazing things happen for people and you say out loud “that sort of stuff never happens to me”? Or how about the reality show “What Not to Wear”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wear really nice clothes instead of jelly smeared jeans? I know these sorts of shows well. I watch, I smile and I think “not in a million years”.
Well, during my time in NYC, I kind of had an “Extreme Home Makeover / What Not to wear” moment. A real one. I think it would have made a great reality show actually. And it all has to do with Vivienne Tam.
As you know by now, I spent 4 amazing days in New York City for fashion week thanks to the folks at Buzz Corps, HP and Vivienne Tam. The entire experience in itself was “reality show” worthy in that this sort of stuff *SO* does not happen to me. I spent every day thanking everyone around me. I thanked drivers (oh wait I hugged him too), door holders, hotel folks, waiters, even random people I passed on the streets for slightly stepping out of my way. I was so damn grateful to be there. Every crack and crevice I happened upon heard my gratitude, loud and clear.
But then something even more amazing happened to all the bloggers on this trip. “What? MORE?!” I hear you mumble. Yes, more. We were given a gift.
We started out mid morning in our shuttle not exactly knowing where we were headed. When we pulled up to Vivienne Tam’s boutique, it was familiar to us after having been there the night before for her show. So we stepped out of the bus and walked in, curious. The entire space had changed into a “store” with racks of her dresses lined up, mannequins dressed, shoes and bags on display. We all wandered around, happy to see the goods in daylight for better pictures and also excited to see more of her line. We snapped pics, picked out favorites, held them up to each other, laughed at the possibilities and moved along.
And then Alan Wang, the Vivienne Tam boutique manager and all around very nice man, got our attention. He stood at the front of the store and thanked us for being here this week. He told us how much Vivienne Tam truly appreciates our support and that she recognizes the important work we do. And as a symbol of her gratitude, she would like to give us a gift. Each of us were welcome to pick out one dress. To keep.
Blank stares. It dawns on us. Mouths drop. Rushed whispering. Quiet squeals. And then me, “Can I hug you right now?”
I am not sure what he said next (although I remember that he diplomatically ignored my invitation for a hug, smart man), but it had begun to sink in. Kind of. We could pick a dress in that room to take home. To wear. To have. To feel fabulous in.
And we were off. Some spending time carefully considering. Others leaping on the handbags and shoes (understandably). And then there was me who grabbed one dress and dashed for the dressing room. What if they changed their minds? Quick. Let me get this on and out the door before they decide this isn’t such a great idea.
I wound up with the second dress I tried on. I truly felt amazing in it. I ran around the store in it. I teared up. Three times. Shamelessly. My friend Moosh in Indy saw my Hanes her Way and that’s cool by me. This was serious business. I got an amazing dress. A Vivienne Tam dress. Glamorous pieces of clothing like this just don’t exist in my life. But now one does. (And it is laughing at everything else in my closet as I write this.)
So what happened next? Just wait. Yes, there’s more.
That night we were welcome to attend another event back at the Vivienne Tam boutique. This was the official launch of the Vivienne Tam Hp Mini. Another night on the town? What better excuse to don our fab dresses. And that we did.
I also brought my VT HP Mini with me. I just figured it would be good to have it since that evening was all about it.
And so what happens? Vivienne Tam arrives, speaks to her guests and then offers to sign anyone’s computers. So now, under my right hand in the bottom corner of my Mini, is Vivienne Tam’s signature. She signed it for me and you know what she said to me? She said I was so beautiful in her dress.
Wow. This mom with jelly smeared jeans and a leaking sippy cup in her purse could be beautiful.
It was a moment. To be sure.
And that’s what the dress and the computer have come to represent. Women running around managing the insanity of their lives, elbow deep in dirty boy socks and sticky pots of mac and cheese DO deserve nice things. A dress like this, a computer like this – well, they are simply special things. Little bits of fabulous that remind you that you are actually “worthy” – socks and mac n cheese aside.
So I had that “What not to Wear” moment. And staying true to the thanking theme of my week, I thanked Vivienne Tam that night. I thanked her for making me feel more beautiful and special than I had in years.
My gratitude is endless, my heart is full and my sense of beautiful is in check.
For that (just one more time) I say: Thank you.
For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.
While getting caught up in the fun of the holidays, it is very easy to throw your usual rules aside and go all out – hoping to ensure the perfect holiday gathering for your family. We go on endless shopping sprees, the budget is long forgotten and so are some of our better “green” habits – all in the name of holiday cheer. The holidays don’t have a reputation of excess for nothing. However, here are some ways to try and keep your cool and stay green without having to forget the fun of the season too.
Some of us will be buying Christmas trees this year to decorate. If you do decorate a tree, consider buying a potted tree and planting it after the season has passed. If that isn’t possible, be sure to contact your local Waste Management Program to find out how to recycle your Christmas tree. Also check Earth 911 for local Christmas tree recycling options.
When it’s time to string up the lights in my home, my inner Clark Griswold comes shining through. However, this year, if you happen to need new lights anyway, consider buying LED holiday lights to save energy. Or if you don’t have to buy new lights, be sure to keep your current lights on a timer so they are off during the day and when you go to sleep.
If you are looking for new ornaments this year, All Free Crafts suggests making ornaments out of recycled Christmas cards. I love to make salt dough ornaments with my children and those treasures will stay on my tree for years to come. Don’t forget about the extra things around the house that might spruce up your tree too like left over ribbon, restrung beads and buttons and even stringing good old fashioned popcorn garland for your tree.
It has never been easier to send e-cards or virtual greetings. I use Hallmark Smilebox to send festive slideshows, greetings and even movie clips. If you still prefer sending mailed cards, consider buying cards made on recycled paper this year. Some options are Cards Direct, Cards for Causes and Green Field Paper.
Part of the holidays always includes cooking traditional meals for friends and relatives. Plan ahead and try to be a green chef this year. For example, try to buy organic foods when possible, think about some vegetarian meals and buy free range poultry and eggs. Another fun tip is to track down a local farm and buy your fruits and vegetables locally – they taste better and are usually more affordable.
Gift giving is on everyone’s minds right now. Think carefully about what you are giving and why your are giving it. Grabbing as much “stuff” as possible just to wrap and stick under the tree isn’t a smart idea. Rather, buy one or two quality items, than a bunch of less well made, more likely to break items. Also, think about buying things that are personal, make some gifts and put your heart into the giving process. A hand knit scarf is always more valued than another boring tie.
Another inexpensive way to buy green gifts is to hop onto Craig’s list or shop in consignment stores. Recycling and saving a dollar never came so easy.
When I was a child, it was inevitable that as we opened our gifts a relative would shout out “I forgot one!” And they would run off and return with a gift wrapped in a towel or pillow case. We used to laugh about it then but now it really isn’t such a bad idea after all! If possible, try to make your own wrapping paper this year by using beautifully decorated paper bags, magazines, old posters, old maps and even the tried and true funny pages. And make my family proud, an old piece of cloth might even look beautiful with the right ribbon and sprucing up.
Another thought? Wrap presents that go together in one package. Also, try to avoid buying gifts that are too large that would take extra wrapping – they probably have too much packaging in them anyway.
I know I still have to get my gift boxes sent off. When you do, try to find old boxes to mail your gifts, be sure to avoid the plastic peanuts and use old newspaper and other pieces from your recycle bin to pack your items. Sometimes I save my sons used ziplock bags and then blow them up for cushion in the boxes.
Finally, you should know that the USPS is actually doing an excellent job of being green about their shipping. They have eco-friendly packaging and even soy based inks and non toxic adhesives. To learn more, go check out their site.
As I flipped to the “smacking my gums, adjusting my spectacles” “easy listening” station in the car earlier today, I realized it had now become the “24 hours of Christmas songs, all day every day” station. Oh. Well. Ok. So I jammed out to a little “Feliz Navidad” while I pulled into the Publix parking lot. T. was quiet (but that’s nothing new after a busy day of Kindergarten). The boys and I walked hand in hand across the parking lot, past the Salvation Army guy ringing his bell, and into the store. The monstrous, floor to the ceiling display of Santa, Mrs. Claus, presents, candy canes, and the rest went unnoticed by me while I yanked out one of those damn “car” grocery carts (you know the kind, the ones for kids that knock every box of cereal off its display within a 12 yard radius). But all of this mid November Christmas hoopla did NOT go unnoticed by my oldest boy.
“Mommy. Where are the Thanksgiving decorations?”
“Wha…?” The cart had almost knocked over a display of flowers and I was focused on maneuvering this “son of a biscuit” cart out of the way.
“Mommy, there are lots of decorations and songs for Halloween. And lots and LOTS of decorations and songs for Christmas. But what about Thanksgiving? Why don’t we decorate for that?”
“Um, heres a can of yams on display, what about that?”
“And lights on houses?! Or blown up Turkeys?! Why don’t we get those?”
He’s right. Why does Thanksgiving get the shaft every year? All halls were 100% decked everywhere we’ve been recently and Thanksgiving is still a week away. Not a Pilgrim or cornucopia to be seen.
“What kind of Thanksgiving songs are there, mama??”
Oy. I guess I can’t explain how badly big corporations want us to get excited about Christmas right now. Ranting and half crazed, they are spreading Christmas cheer all around us hoping to coax maybe a few more dollars out of our pockets. Hoping maybe we’ll fan the dying embers of our economy with one more toy for junior. Lord knows, I am certainly one to get caught up in the “gotta make Christmas perfect” fervor.
And don’t you think they HAVE decorated a little earlier this year? I wouldn’t blame them. We need some tidings of joy around here. We need some cheerful spending and a jollier economic confidence. We need to forget about this whole damn mess we’re all in.
But I guess I can’t explain that to him.
“That’s a good question, hon. Stores really don’t make as much money decorate as much as they do for Christmas, do they.”
I am wondering if Turkeys cost more money than they did, or if gifts were given, or if there was same insane hype to make that day perfect for your child – I wonder if there WOULD be decorations as far as the eye could see. Orange and yellow lights strung up, pumpkin pie songs on the radio, or even a “Santa-esque” Pilgrim rising up out of the pumpkin patch to deliver toys to every little boy and girl… oh wait, I am mixing all my holidays up royally now.
“Hey! You know what? There IS a Thanksgiving song! I’ll play it for you when I get home!”
“Yay! OK Mommy!”
And this is what we played over our ravioli tonight.
Hat in hand -and I don’t even wear a hat, unless its a red sox hat, go sox, even though they lost, but I digress… Hat in hand, eyes on the floor, head bowed – I step before my wonderful readers to officially apologize for being a slow poster these days. (Shaking my head at myself.) My last two posts have had days in between them! Not good, not good at all. But I promise you, I have had a good excuse! I will officially give you the scoop once I am officially official and officially up and running. ;)
However! I do have some good stuff to share with you right now. See, I love supporting moms who are getting it done on their own – starting businesses from nothing, following a passion, bringing home the bacon while raising their sprouts. I want to get up on soapboxes for these women and give them a WOOT WOOT! So, being the blogger that I am, I will scramble up on top of this post to declare my support for a few moms trying to get some momentum with their terrific businesses.
(And full-disclosure, I haven’t gotten any freebies for promoting them either. I just think their stuff is cool.)
A whole bunch of my playgroup and music class moms wear T-shirts from this local Tampa mommy. She sells T-shirts with such great sayings as: “Veggie Enforcer” or “Sleep Deprived” or “I make a mean PG&J”. Please check them out. And hurry to order! They are offering free shipping in October!
Baby Pop: Get a personalized super hero cape! (See them in picture above.) Ilinap from Dirt and Noise recently bought a personalized cape and mask from this site for her son. How adorable are these ideas? This mom uses high quality environmentally friendly materials too.
This mom brings us a line of clothing inspired by South Africa, using South African materials. She believes in supporting fair trade and the Bug Zoo clothing line employs moms in South Africa to make high quality products. Please check out her site and products! (You know anything supporting South Africa always gets my attention.)
A friend forwarded this site to me recently telling me someone from our college works for this company and I should really try using is over Evite. While it looks like a bunch of guys (not moms) on the management team, they could be dads, right? And this is certainly a new product just starting up so I am giving it my props here. I really do like it and love the design options over Evite. Check it out!
Well, that’s about all I have up my sleeve… for now. More later. And I am also going to try not to get all political all the time around these parts. I used to consider this blog a nice combination of various mommy topics – politics included. Now it seems more of a political blog with some various mommy topics included. I suppose its a sign of these times but I would like more balance in my life and my blog. I swear, I will reclaim my sanity… on November 5th.
It all started out with the best of intentions. When T. turned five last week, his grandmother sent him a crisp $20.00 bill to spend on whatever he would like. What a sweet and smart gesture! A true acknowledgement that he was a big boy – five! – and old enough to have his own money. T. and I agreed that he could take his money to Toys R Us where he could buy a special toy all by himself. So, today, holding onto some left over birthday cheer, we headed over to the recently opened Toys R Us up the road. When we got out of the car, he was absolutely fired up. He jumped up and down beside me, his $20.00 held tight in his hand. And I was excited too, I thought that he might get a good lesson about money and how to spend it. This would be fun!
Walking into Toys R Us still holds the same magic for me as it did when I was a kid. Like something out of a dream, bright primary colored toy boxes were laid out before us, as far as the eye could see, from floor to ceiling. My heart still skips a beat when I pass that wonderful candy pink aisle packed with every kind of cool Barbie stuff. I remember standing in that aisle with my own birthday money, carefully weighing my options, giddy, silly and wanting.
I asked T. where he would like to look first. He said “Star Wars stuff” so we headed there. He went straight up to the $49.00 Darth Vadar/Death Star transformer. “What about this?” “Sorry hon, too expensive.” And then pointed out what things were ok. He touched all the boxes, considering everything but he seemed a bit overwhelmed. So I said that maybe we should walk around a bit and see what else there was.
When we stopped at the Thomas the tank aisle, without any hesitation, he picked up a starter train set for $19.99 and said “I want this!” Perfect! Ok! Let’s go check out.
…”But what about the Star Wars things??”
“Um, no, hon, this train set costs $20.00. You’ve spent all of your money.”
And that’s when it happened. I could practically hear the audible snap. Greed swooped in and clutched my son’s usually rational brain – a beast took over.
“NOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! I WANT THE STAR WARS THINGS!!! I WANT THE TRAIN THINGS!!!! I WANT EEEVVVVEEERRREEEETHIIIIIING!!!!!”
He promptly burst into tears and slumped down on the platform displaying all the bikes. While C. ran up and down the bike aisle, with a bike helmet on, T. sobbed. I explained that he couldn’t have everything. $20.00 will only buy him somethings or one thing. Not everything. He was crushed. He was overwhelmed. The decision was impossible.
We finally went with the train set. As we went to check out, we steered clear of the Star Wars aisle for fear he would be set off once again. But what really made me sad was that he wasn’t giddy and excited about his purchase. He seemed resigned. Instead of getting a fun new toy, he looked like he had actually lost something. His eyes were still wet, his face was sad and walked behind me slowly. This was not the fun adventure I thought it would be. The only lesson he learned was there is so much he couldn’t have. Granted, that is a very important lesson for any child, but again, it wasn’t exactly how I thought the experience would go down when we walked in there a half hour prior.
As I have mentioned before, I try to limit too much stuff in our lives. Call it being cheap, being green, or saving space, but we honestly don’t have half the toys his friends do. And even the toys T. has, he only plays with them now and then. T. has never been a stuff guy. Presents are fun to open but he’ll leave something in its box for days and only vaguely find interest when I get his attention and ask him if he wants to open it with me. He is usually happier with a book, playing a board game, playing outside with a ball or in the sprinkler. Of course, he loves T.V. but not too much. He has always seemed “just right” with his need for any sort of excess. He has never hoarded, he has always shared well, and – shockingly – he has never begged or pleaded or demanded a toy (ice cream, yes, a toy no). Until today.
So excuse me as I unleash the mommy guilts within. But, today, I feel like I ruined a little bit of him. I let money become something exciting. I let the stuff become a fun thing to get and find and need. My heart went a little cold when he said “I want everything.” I know this is a human reaction. We all want a shopping spree. We all get excited over stuff. We all get bummed out when we can’t afford something we want desperately. Its normal, he needs to understand how buying things works and understand the value and limits of money. And, I assure you, there will be more birthday money in his future, we will set out for Toys R Us once again, and we will keep working on this lesson until it is good and learned. But, I guess, just to see his first moment where he is actually heartbroken over not getting some sort of stuff… It just didn’t feel so good.
And here’s the kicker. After lunch we pulled out the train, got it all set up (making a figure eight with train tracks is no easy feat, I mean it) and now its sitting there untouched on our family room floor. A few minutes ago, I asked him “What about your train, T.? Why don’t you play with that for a little bit?” “Its making me boring, mommy” Oh o.k. Terrific.
Stuff. We want it. We stress over it. We use money we don’t even have to buy it. We finally get it, hold it up like a trophy fish scooped out of mall’s ocean. When, most of the time, we really don’t even need it.