Thursday, December 01, 2011

Missing Geoffrey

I never thought the day would come that I would actually miss standing in line waiting to wrestle down another cantankerous mother for the final Tickle Me Elmo doll. But the day has come. I miss Suzie Cries and Burps. I miss the Great Big Toy Book. I even miss Geoffrey the giraffe.

As frenzied as that scene could get, it was basically one-stop shopping. Fill the cart with toys, get your free plush toy and arrive home just after narrowly escaping death at the jaws of the colossal SUV careening around the corner to get your space. Winning!

And at the end of the day, you felt rewarded for your selfless act of heroism. On Christmas morning, your child would be enchanted by the array of gifts that included moving parts and blinking lights and all those ear-piercing, thunderous sounds that came from nebulous mechanisms that never included a volume control.

But, that is no longer our reality.

I can't even hope that the hot toy of the year will be one of the Black Friday early-bird specials, so I can get up at 3 a.m. to fight the good fight — coffee in one hand, stun gun in the other. Uggs and North Face jackets rarely go on sale. Neither do iPhones or trapeze lessons. There's also a request for a Hollywood agent at my house this year. That should be easy to find.

Where's Geoffrey when I need him? Heck, he probably has a good agent.

Satisfying the perceived crucial, but grossly artificial, needs of tween and teen daughters goes way beyond a keen eye for a good bargain. You need to have a strong stomach, an athlete's endurance and a wallet that would make Warren Buffett blush. And if you are uneasy about shopping in a dark room with loud music and perfume that intermittently blasts at you from secret portals, you might be the lamest parent ever. You probably don't even know that beach vintage is so chill right now.

Here's the silver lining: Fewer toys means that playrooms are becoming obsolete in the homes where these Crombie-consumed kids reside.

Do you see where I'm going with this? This is our golden opportunity to depose the current power and take back the space that is rightfully ours. How much room do you really need to text and Skype your friends on your swanky new iPhone? While their fingers do the talking, I'll be walking to the nearest furniture store to buy my new leather sofa and big screen TV.

But we are not completely heartless. My husband and I have decided that we will allow the kids into our adult playroom on occasion — but only with the appropriate security clearance and password. They also have to vow — in writing — to never watch an episode of "Good Luck Charlie" on the new television. That would just ruin the whole vibe. (Not so chill, if you know what I mean.)

In the meantime, I have plenty of holiday shopping to do, and none of it includes talking dolls or stacking blocks or choo-choo trains with square wheels. You really never appreciate any stage of parenting until you are deeply entrenched in the next painfully agonizing — and much more expensive — chapter.

In the end, the gifts will still be under the tree, the kids will still be thrilled with their new-found trove of treasures and as in years past, we'll be broke and exhausted but secretly elated to watch our kids' faces light up on Christmas morning.

But I really do miss Geoffrey.

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