I have a favorite toy store.
No. Not those kinds of toys.
These are real toys. You know, the kind my kids like.
This toy store is small and privately owned. You will never find Spider-Man, Barbie or Elmo in this store. No video games. No DVDs. No obnoxious battery-operated toys designed to suck your child's brain dry of any imagination.
These are quality, inspiring toys. The kind that make you want to be a kid again.
So, when I come up emtpy handed on Christmas gift ideas for Baby, I head over there to see if any of their very helpful, very knowledgable staff can help me out.
The minute we hit the door the kids scatter, each going to their favorite section. Brother heading to the pirates and knights while Sister skips off to the fluffy, pink side of the store. I follow Baby to see what tickles her fancy.
She zeros in on an electronic keyboard, complete with tiny little seat and microphone stand. She's played with it before, but I'll be honest. It's not my favorite toy in the store. It doesn't even look like it belongs. It looks as if a stiff 2-mile-an-hour wind could smash it to a million little red and blue plastic pieces. I've never given it a second thought.
But the Christmas spirit is upon me and I glance at the price tag. I mean, can you put price on a little girl's happiness?
Apparently you can. To the tune of $68.95.
Seventy dollars for that????!!!
I try to steer Baby toward the cute jungle bongos or jingle bell shakers. She is momentarily distracted when I hear a snooty voice in a British accent say, "Where have you gone? Let's play mue-sick!"
It's the keyboard. Of course, for seventy bucks you get the built in babysitter feature. Perhaps it reaches out and drags your child back if they don't respond within a certain amount of time.
We don't stand around and wait to find out.
An employee catches up with us around the adorable out-of-my-price-range kitchen and offers help.
I pounce on her.
"What am I going to give her for Christmas?!" I ask, shoving my wiggling, ornery little critter at her for emphasis.
"How old is she?"
"She just turned two."
"How about a baby doll?"
"My parents already got her one along with all the cute accessories."
"What about a chalkboard easle?"
"We have one."
She thinks for a moment and then shows me to the arts and crafts department. She then hands me a tissue paper craft kit. This kit comes with many different colors of tissue, which are to be crumpled into little balls and then glued to little shapes of pre-cut cardboard.
Two year olds, tissue paper and glue. Hmmmmmm...
"Well, what does she like to do?" the saleslady asks.
"Uh, let's see. Draw on the walls, remove all the credit cards from my wallet, watch endless amounts of Dora the Explorer, pull her sister's hair, pound the computer keyboard and run with scissors. Hey! Got any scissors?"
I think I exasperated the nice saleslady, because she disappeared.
And I am still no closer to a gift.