We made it
through Christmas just fine, with our normal three gifts and a few extras from
grandparents, aunts, and uncles. During January and February we had skiing. But
in March, I began to hear the whines. "Mom, I don't have anything to do.
Can we please go to the store and buy a toy to play with?"
I have a seven-year-old who is a Lego fanatic. He also loves to spend money. So when several months of being shut up by the interminable snow fall had done him in, he got it in his mind that a new Lego set would fix all his problems.
In our family, we've been pretty firm that we only buy toys on Christmas and birthdays. Our kids have been very fortunate to get lots of presents on both those occasions. But even with our rule, toys come into our house left and right from other friends' birthday parties, school prizes, and activities.
So this time, I decided that we could make this a learning opportunity (insert collective groan from kids everywhere). I told my son that he could buy the Lego set if he saved up his own money. He currently gets a weekly allowance if he does all his chores. He had fourteen dollars saved from that. I told him that he could earn more money by doing extra chores around the house. Over the next week, he chose to clean the upstairs bathroom and clean out the pantry for an extra $3 each. He earned $3 in allowance that weekend, and was able to wait one more week to earn $3 more before dragging me to the store.
I took him to Nature Calls in the Powerhouse Mall, which is one of our favorite toy stores. They have a large, but not overwhelming, Lego display. The best part of the store is the knowledgeable staff. They've actually used the toys and games in the store and will patiently answer a little boy's questions about the best set to pick.
He'd saved up $26 which he'd carefully counted out then jammed in his pocket. I decided to push back from my need to make sure those dollars didn't fall out of his pocket and let this entire experience be his gig. He carefully checked his pocket several times as we walked into the store.
When my kids enter Nature Calls, they light up. It's a huge store, with thoughtfully displayed toys from end to end. Liz Staples, the owner, picks toys without lights or batteries. She stocks toys that make kids think, that require participation to put them together or engage in their own fantasy play.
My son had thought carefully about what he wanted, but Nature Calls displays their toys and games so well you can't help but be tempted. He briefly considered changing his choice and looked at Star Wars books and PlayMobil sets. But his favorite toy ultimately drew him back in and we headed to the Lego corner to make a selection.
Because he had $26, there was a large selection of sets to choose from, but he couldn't choose just anything. The bigger sets were too expensive, so we had a chat about which sets would be under $26 (thank goodness New Hampshire doesn't have sales tax to further complicate things).
He considered the Lego City, Minecraft, and Marvel Super Heroes Sets, but finally chose Star Wars. He chose a medium-sized kit that was just under $20, and decided to save his extra $6 for the next purchase. He handed his wad of one dollar bills over to the cashier and she patiently helped him count what he needed and gave him his change.
We spent extra time wandering around the store, looking at the Science sets, putting future birthday presents on his list (yes, really), and hugging stuffies. It was a perfect outing for the tail end of winter.
Now that summer's almost here, I'll be heading back to Nature Calls to grab those birthday presents he mentioned. And check out the science kits I didn't get enough time to explore. Because Mom likes toys, too.