I had a good childhood. I had lots of love, lots of opportunity, lots of faith invested in me and from me, lots of all the healthy good things I needed, AND quite frankly, lots of stuff.
My mother was one of those crazy circa 1980-whatever it was women that stalked toy stores looking for the perfect Cabbage Patch Kid. Back before the time (aka today) when the mass-produced dolls came in a mountain of variety with trendy little names. Your choice was simply what color yarn your doll's hair would be and what color eyes she or he would sport. I, of course, had to have the doll that looked like me. Do you know how hard it was that first year to find any of these dolls, let alone one with red hair and green eyes?
Mom, however, was determined to do just that and succeeded. My doll's "given" name was Dulucy Mariam. Upon official adoption I renamed her after the young Irish student we had hosted that summer - Marina. I wish I could remember the doll's middle name. I think the re-issued birth certificate is long since been lost.
This all important and much too stressful quest had a limited range of locations dedicated to the hunt. It was mom, a phone book, one major toy chain and a few cheapy-type department-ish stores.
Today the kids, Grandma and I took a short road trip. We went to the place Logan nearly swoons over any time you say its name. It's a small shop. I'm fairly certain one department of our local mega-chain toy store could outsize this quaint place.
You find a few well known brands there - Legos, Thomas, Cranium games. Most of the store, however, is bursting at the seems with high quality toys I've not seen anywhere else local. Logan has amassed a small collection of Bruder trucks thanks to these toy proprietors. Meg is collecting an array of soft dolls and doll related stuff. The majority of the store's stash is educational in nature - real tot-sized instruments, sturdy, realistic trucks, craft kits, science projects, hands on building, exploring, learning, having fun.
It's kid heaven and a parent's dream. Things that can be fun and educational.
Today we went to shop for two birthday gifts - a soon to be 9-year old girl and a pending 4-year old boy from Logan's class. And of course, per usual, my kids left the store with a little something. When at mass-market-toy-giant I can say no to purchases. Itty-bitty brain food store, I'm a wimp.
Shopping for the nine-year old gave me a chance to look at shelves at which I do not normally get to look. It made me want to keep digging. Keep finding. Keep, dare I say, spending.
And it wasn't just about the kids. I found myself, as I pondered one potential gift after another, pushing down the pang of jealously.
All I had as a kid -the games, the figures, the dolls - and yet we had nothing like this. I was jealous. I mean, really, I think I would have trade in Marina that Cabbage Patch Kid for a chance to shop there. Yes, the same doll my daughter now pulls around by it's yarn pig-tails. (The photo shown here was taken roughly a year ago.)
I've marked a date on my calendar. Grandma and I are returning to the little store where wishlists are made before Logan's birthday arrives. I will spend more money than I ought to on toys he spent his fair share of time oogling today. Detective kits and board games. Dinosaur excavation and trucks. Oodles and oodles of stuff we won't find elsewhere.
And maybe, just maybe, while we're there, I'll pick up a little something for myself.