Look Before You Leap When Buying Toys for Kids

I've never been particularly good at reading the fine print, which is something I'm working on, because, well, that's sorta important for things like "assembling furniture" and "signing stuff."

It's not always easy for someone like me, who goes 827,264 miles a minute, but I've been working like mad to make sure that I take some time to stop and be in the moment. My therapist says that's healthy.

And if I'd bothered, on Saturday night, to stop and smell the proverbial roses, I might not have ended up in this situation. Which could've saved an awful lot of whining and complaining.

Oddly, though, not from me.


It all happened Saturday night. I had a friend over as well as another friend in town with her kid, and it was my night with my own children -- Death Flu be damned -- and I was determined to take care of some important business. Like buying ice cream and stuff, which we all know is incredibly important for survival.

Off we went to The Target Store (my daughter's name for it), ready to peruse the aisles of The Greatland in search of things like "ice cream" and "toilet paper," y'know, the essentials of living. Plus, I had coupons AND a list, which goes to show that you can, eventually, teach an old dog new tricks.

The two littles, my 5-year-old and 3-year-old, had asked me very politely if they could pick out a treat while we were at the store, and, being a sucker for their big sweet eyes, I agreed heartily. What's life without a treat here and there?

By the time we made it to the toy section, there was so much over-stimulation and exhaustion ... and that was just on my end. Not wishing to spend the rest of the night carefully choosing a toy, only to put it back in favor of another toy, comparing their relative levels of The Awesome, I was quick to say yes to each of them as they chose something for Mom's place.

My daughter, being a miniature crime fighter, immediately chose a Batman toy, which featured a jail and some sort of contraption that allowed Batman to slide down a metal pole, making him appear as though he was, in fact, being played by a stunt double. But, I said to myself, at least it wasn't full of teeny-tiny pieces that I'd break my toes on while on a midnight trip to the bathroom. I put it in the cart.

My son, on the other hand, decided that what would be the very best toy for him was a pair of Spider-Man gloves that did something or another. I didn't actually look, because I was too ready to leave the store without a tantrum. From me, naturally.

We got home to unpack the groceries and place them in my now-not-so-bare cupboards, as my son asked every five or so seconds if it was "time to get my toy out." As I was in the middle of trying to decide where, in fact, the cereal went, I continued putting him off. He chose to sit patiently and wait until I was ready for him.

Finally, the groceries were put away, the kids had all gone to the bathroom, and it was getting close to bedtime for babies. I sat down with the box my son foisted onto my lap and looked at it.

And then my heart sunk.

I'd accidentally bought the kid a pair of Spider-Man gloves that shot silly string and/or water from the gloves, using some elaborate contraption I couldn't quite figure out how to use.

The problem wasn't the toy -- the problem was that it was 7:30 on a cold and rainy Saturday night where we were stuck in a small apartment with another child -- not my own -- who was not even 2. Three adults + three kids in tiny apartment = crowded. Too crowded for us to be shooting silly string and water all over the damn place.

I felt terrible for not noticing it sooner -- and allowing him to pick out a toy he could actually PLAY with as opposed to something that wouldn't quite work inside my place.

"I'm sorry, Baby," I said to him. "This is an outside toy -- we're going to have to wait for a sunny day to play with it."

He peered outside and, noting the circular lights in my complex had gone on, said hopefully, "It's kinda bright out, Mama!"

"Baby," I said sadly. "It's raining -- we can't go outside right now."

Crestfallen doesn't begin to describe the look on his face adequately. My heart hurt. I should've taken a closer look at the damn packaging and helped him choose another toy. Honestly, it was my fault and it was all I could do to not start bawling out of guilt. Such is the life with divorce, I guess.

I did the only thing I could think to do.

"Baby," I said to him, pulling him close. "Let's take this toy to Dad's house tomorrow so you can play with it there."

"Okay," he nodded solemnly, agreeing before scampering off to play with his sister's Batman toy.

Crisis averted. And? Lesson learned: When in doubt, send it to Dad's house.

Also: Read fine print, but y'know, it's so SMALL and BORING.


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