Within my circle of friends, I was one of the last to reproduce. There's definitely perks to both ends. On one hand, you start early and have a free house to frolic about carelessly in while you are young enough to enjoy it. On the other hand, you have the wisdom and tips from your friends with older kids, helping you skirt passed train wrecks.
Now, one of the most important lessons I learned from my friends' darling offsprings is this: NEVER, under any circumstances, let your children discover the toy section at Wal-Mart. Push your cart the long way around. Skip things you can get at a later, child-free time. Once the kid realizes this never-ending land of toys and gadgets and other kid bologna they won't be interested in once you've bought it and pull out of the parking lot, you will only be able to leave Wal-Mart one of two ways:
1.) With a mind-numbing decrease in cash.
2.) With a kicking, screaming hellion either makes you look like a spineless puss in front of the hard-nosed, whip 'em 'til they bleed crowd or makes you look like a heartless child abuser to the wimpy, call DHS over hand slaps posse.
Whatever route you venture down, you will not come out a winner. Now, I have lived by the principles of total toy aisle alienation since the day our first son was born. It was my religion of the devout.
But then four years of precise planning came tumbling down into a rumble of future temper tantrums when my father, my freakin' father, introduced Ridge to the Wal-Mart toy section. You don't expect this kind of betrayal by your own flesh and blood.
It was fateful afternoon about two weeks ago. Dad picked up Ridge, his oldest grandchild, from Rainbow Lane and the two of them embarked upon their adventures. First, they went to the park where the feed ducks while Dad used his darling grandchild as a prop to attract women. Well, I don't actually know that for a fact, but I do know it is a proper strategy among unattached men.
After chasing their feathered friends to an early migration, they moseyed across the street to the museum where Ridge flung his arms with excitement as they looked at trains, tractors and antique cars. Equipment really makes my boy's heart tick.
And, the next step in the progression was obviously spoiling the already spoiled grandchild even further by not just buying him a toy, but by allowing him to pick it out by himself, somehow selecting one lucky toy out of sea, an endless ocean, of shit he doesn't need. Up to this point, Ridge just thought toys magically appeared when one of his special days rolled around, like his birthday or the time he willingly shared his candy with his brother.
But now his eyes were opened to the freedom of selecting his own, to the notion that while the toys he's been getting are pretty cool, toys he loves more exist right there on the shelf next to this preselected bullshit.
Ever since my father, the trecherous traitor that he is, broke my cardinal rule and introduced Ridge to the Heaven of his dreams, we haven't been able to leave town without venturing into Wal-Mart. And that, my friends, makes this already sucky experience even more painful to me. As you know, I gave up Wal-Mart for Lent and have only been back once when I had to find some supplies for the cruise in May. My blood pressure has been lower. I've slept more soundly each night. My life has been all around better.
But, the good times are gone. Wal-Mart has become Ridge's Disneyland, available each time we leave Elk City to drive back to Cheyenne.
I won't get Ridge toys for the purpose of making him love me more than he loves his rock star dad. Okay, I will, but don't tell Rowdy. However, to disguise it to the husband and maintain some element of parental order, I do make Ridge earn the toys. And by earn, I mean I make Ridge follow through with his end of my bribes for obediance and good behavior. It's working like a charm. Hell, I'm thinking of writing a "How To" book for other mommies and daddies out there.
Until then, I'm racking my brain to scheme up some devious plan to even the score with Grandpa Dennis the Devil. Damn him, damn him!