I lived a full life during my visit to the Lego store. There was joy and sorrow, laughter, love, and anticipation—of course—because we were going to that place. We arrived doe-eyed and drooling, or at least they did. I was the reluctant driver. Just a note, I warned ahead of time. I’m not loaning you money—Christmas is coming and my toy budget is allocated. But just to look, they said, curious about the new models and there was the symptomatic searing of their allowance like a hot virus in their pockets. And the pain made it essential to eliminate the ache, the burden, of funds.
And cash heavy as they were, there was a certain confidence, a joie de vivre and tire-kicking stride as they eyed the boxes on the shelves. But what they had was really only a little and they wanted more, and the two oldest negotiated and decided to consolidate and buy a Ninjago model, and the young one was jealous and scanned the shelves and picked something he had to have and I shook my head. There’s a lesson here about managing money. Why! He cried, and I told him about the holidays and I had to consider cash flow, and he asked again and we went back and forth and I put the box in its place on the shelf. And the middle boy came to me teary-eyed and said the eldest betrayed the bargain and picked something from Star Wars not Ninjago, and he always does this he said, and I said, yes, so don’t make deals, and he cried and the youngest threw himself at my feet and grabbed my ankles and the oldest said, I’m bored. And he went back to the car because he could. And he’d already blown his money that morning and really didn’t have any to contribute to the grand bargain in the first place, but I didn’t reach this conclusion until later. And so it was the two and I, and I said let’s go and they said no, and their feet were planted and with all the crying they were rooted deep.
The middle boy drew his money from his pocket and counted. Ok, I said, because I felt bad about the broken pact and dashed hopes, and we’d been wandering the store for nearly an hour, and I was tired and having fantasies about boarding schools and valium. I’ll loan you next week’s allowance. Of course, in fairness, that meant doing the same for the little guy. When I said so, his face was a sun. And then, what was it I wanted? he asked and he began to panic.
And so redemption came in a plastic bag. And when we walked from the store it was sunshine after a storm. Of course I felt I’d lost something: control—absolutely—a little cash, the opportunity for that lesson on financial management as well as a little dignity when I’d managed one or two mermaid steps with a seven-year-old dragging from my feet. But then, what is parenting if not the obliteration of self, which some call Nirvana. That said, I can only conclude the Lego store is a little bit of heaven.