Last weekend the boys and I enjoyed a fun visit to Grammy's house. We had a great time, but the highlight of the entire weekend was probably when we took the TRAIN downtown to the Build a Bear Workshop. Who would have thought that public transit could inspire such wonder, and sheer joy. Little man could not believe his luck when the train pulled up and we climbed aboard, he was not discomforted by the hoodlums contemplating vandalism around us, or the odd people smell that made me clutch my Purell like it was gold. He was in awe, it was an adventure...score points for the fun mommy.
Once we arrived at the workshop, again there was more awe from my child, and I had the odd sensation that we were walking into a trap. We were greeted at the door by a happy helper in a smart uniform who directed us to the wall of bears we could make. Little man had a good time filling his bear, and giving it a bath, and brushing it off, but thankfully started to lose interest before we got to the oh so cute, and oh so bill increasing clothing and accessories. All in all it was a fun experience and little man enjoyed it thoroughly, although I think that he was most impressed by the "house" he got to take his bear home in, but as I was paying for our fun, my mom who was with us (and has an uncanny knack for hitting the nail on the head) helped me put to words the odd feeling I had had when we walked in the store. The whole conversation went something like this...
BUILD-A-BEAR LADY: Have you heard about our rewards program?
BUILD-A-BEAR LADY: Well its a program where for every $200 you spend you get...
MY MOM: A big stamp on your forehead that says sucker.
BUILD-A-BEAR LADY: (somewhat crestfallen) $10 off you next purchase.
At that point I politely declined the rewards program and we quickly exited the store, Grammy laughingly apologized for any embarrassment she might have caused with her errant comment, but then validated it by saying, "But honestly, there are starving children in this world." And I think that I have to side with my mother. With the passing of Christmas I have been thinking a great deal about how much is too much, when does giving our kids things cross the line from helping our kids to hurting them? I realized that the gimmick at the workshop was not the teddy bears at all, but rather the notion it gave parents that they were doing something magical with their kids. That's it, the workshop was selling at least a facade of quality time, and we had bought into it. As I rode home on the train clutching my hand sanitizer and trying to mirror the excitement on my little man's face, I realized that its moments like these that we as parents are always trying to capture with our children and its moments like these that often get passed over for the quicker, more comfortable car ride. And when they get passed over enough times we find ourselves at the Build-a-Bear Workshop forking over our $20, or $40 dollars so that we can feel like the fun mommy again. I suppose it does no harm and even is the special memory we want it to be, if done in small doses, but I think after careful evaluation I've decided that joining the "rewards" club will be far too great a sacrifice for me and my children, we'll take the train instead.
3 weeks ago