Friday I picked up the kids from school and we headed down to Temec to see Madagascar 2. We had some time to kill after we’d gotten some lunch (primary rule of family outings: eat first, hungry children are the devil’s playthings) and before our showing started, so we decided to kill some time in the mall.
One of the shops we popped into was an American Greetings outlet. We spent about twenty minutes in there because Luke could not be pulled away from the big rack of 2008 collectible Christmas ornaments. Specifically, the Model T ornament, the “antique console-style television that shows the Andy Griffith Show on the screen and whistles the theme song when you press the button” ornament, the Union Pacific vintage aerotrain ornament, the John Deere tractor ornament…you get the idea. This isn’t the first time I’ve suspected that my son was born in the wrong era: he has an ardent passion for gadgets and vehicles built during the first half of the 20th century.
Sadly I could not afford to buy any of them for him — the matinee movie and lunch at Souplantation were our big splurge for the week, because we’re high rollers that way — and eventually we got him out of there.
After the movie (which was hilarious) we did some grocery shopping. Our last stop of the night was at Henry’s, one of those save-the-planet whole foods stores. We were in the dairy aisle when suddenly Luke’s eyes lit up and he pointed to something up high on the wall. “I want one of those!” he announced in tones of suppressed excitement.
I looked where he was pointing, and saw this:
“You want…a dollhouse?” I asked uncertainly.
“It’s not a dollhouse,” he said, sounding mightily affronted. “It’s a playset. And also I want a Model T that’s the right size for the garage, and a little TV. And a fireplace.”
“I…um…” Possibly I could afford to get him these things for Christmas, in addition to the Satisfactorily Manly microscope and pocketwatch he’d already requested. But…well, I’m not proud of this, but…my brain was seizing up at the thought of what would happen if word got out that I had bought my eight-year-old son a dollhouse for Christmas.
It must have shown on my face, because Luke’s own expression lost some of its self-assurance. “It’s a playset,” he repeated, but he didn’t sound as sure of it this time. “Except…I guess that one does look a little bit like a dollhouse. I want a playset that doesn’t look like a dollhouse. With a TV and a fireplace and a Model T.”
Yesterday while the kids were visiting their dad I was surfing the net, searching for the manliest dollhouse — er, playset — I could find.
Turns out there really are some fine manly dollhouses out there. This one’s nice:
It’s also $250. Apparently you pay extra for the manliness, because pretty much every “playset” that isn’t made of pink plastic costs upwards of $80. Which didn’t seem like a lot last Christmas when the bucketfuls of money were still coming to this address, but now it sounds like a big damn chunk of cash. And naturally they don’t come STANDARD with Model T’s and fireplaces and televisions, so THAT’S going to be another limb. Why can’t he just be into Pokemon like all the other eight-year-olds?
Elizabeth has asked me for exactly one thing for Christmas: a metal detector. She is SO OVER the whole budgeting thing, and wants to use her metal detector to find loose change wherever she goes so that she can return to the good old days when she actually got to buy stuff from time to time.
Ah, the heartwarming spirit of Christmas.
Can you feel it?