August 15, 2013 by benmblackman
You know they say, ‘never meet your heroes’ – or something like that? ‘They’ll only disappoint you’. Well, once you’re an adult, the same also applies to visiting a certain toy shop which, in childhood, was the most gigantic, magical land of hope and glory.
If only I could remember what it was called? If only it had a catchy advert that would have embedded itself in my head so I could still recite the whole Christmas Jingle what, 20 years (no, really?) later.
It’s fine, I’ve googled it – ‘it’s called Toys ‘R Us, Toys ‘R Us, Toys ‘R Us‘!
Earlier this week I had the (mis)fortune of returning to the great place as an adult. Jeffrey wasn’t there and the helpers seemed to have developed, what can only be described as, a laissez faire attitude to corporate uniform and the helping element of being a helper. They didn’t mention that in the advert did they?
Of course, I was there for The Calpol Kid. I met Mrs B and her after they’d already spent the morning having coffee and cakes, before shopping for school shoes and trainers. She had also been promised a toy from ‘the big toy shop’. She’d never been before and, in fact, mistook the pre-toy shop visit to HobbyCraft (to Art Students what Toys ‘R Us is to a toddler) to be THE shop. On persuading her to leave, under some duress it has to be said, I promised her she would be excited when she saw the real toy shop.
‘But Daddy, I really want the Shaker Shaker.’ (She’d found it in Hobbycraft.)
‘You don’t even know what a Shaker Shaker is though, and it’s ten pounds, we haven’t got ten pounds.’
‘I do know what it is, you shakey shake it, you makey make it, and then you paint it Daddy – I’ve seen the advert.’
Damn you Nick Jnr. and your super hyped up school holiday advertising schedules.
In the end I gained her trust and she believed that there might just possibly be a more exciting land out there than HobbyCraft. Dream big my child, dream big. She made me promise if not that we would return. Luckily for both of us we didn’t need to as, some moments later, we crossed the threshold of Toys ‘R Us.
On entering, a yelp of utter joy and excitement left her lips, so high pitched that dogs from afar gathered to find out where the treats were. I lifted her up high so she could assess just how vast this kingdom was. Her mind was blown. I think she thought she might be in DisneyLand for a minute.
We passed by the electric car display. I was impressed to note that (if I didn’t mind going without food for the rest of the month – along with Mrs B and The Calpol Kid) I could afford a Mini Clubman which was powered by electric and drove like a real car.
If only my 10 year old self could see me now, I thought, he’d be so proud, yet disappointed, as we walked on by. Through the electrical instruments section, where one of Jeffrey’s helpers fought the losing battle of turning off all the instruments the children were happily turning on again and again at speeds faster than she could ever hope to catch up with. Sambas, Bossanovas, and Waltzes played out of various keyboards, perfectly out of time. Children bashed on electric drum kits, I even caught an adult strumming an electric guitar. He looked embarrassed for a second before he realised my stare was not one of condemnation, rather envy and respect. Before I had the chance to find something for myself to join the band I was whisked further into the store. The Calpol Kid clearly had a game plan. She wasn’t interested in cars or instruments, no, I knew exactly where she was heading. Feminists will be delighted to know how easy it is to navigate a Toys ‘R Us store, it is helpfully split into Girls and Boys ‘zones’. We were, of course, heading to the girliest of girl zones available.
We were in Disney and Barbie land. Pink, pink, to make the girls wink, or so they say. Whilst she was winking uncontrollably I was wincing at the prices. After much deliberation (much = 19 minutes; deliberation = near crazed scenes of shopping high) she finally settled on a Barbie Wardrobe. Don’t get me wrong, she had picked hundreds of other (pricier) items before we (I mean she) settled on this. Feminists will this time be pleased to know, against all odds (a ratio of about 50 pink to 1 Blue on the shelf in fact) she chose a blue one instead of a pink one.
As we were queuing she couldn’t help but get distracted by the thousands of other toys; bikes; houses; electronics; furniture; playground equipment; sports paraphernalia; games consoles; gadgets; and the rest. Finally, Mrs B pulled out the master stroke to get her attention once more. ‘Come on, or you’ll be late for your hair appointment,’ she shouted across the shop floor. Well, when in Rome! Hang on there just a second, I double took. Coffee; Cakes; Shoes; Trainers; Toys; Hair Appointment – who does she think she is? Paris Hilton?
Nah, she doesn’t, she’ll always be my little girl won’t she?
Except, after I had read her a story before bed later that evening and Mrs B had sung her The Bedtime Song (it’s a really good one), apparently her final words before falling asleep were, ‘Mummy, can I have a car?’ I know for a fact she was referring to, and later dreaming of, this!