I was at the toy section in Ikea yesterday, getting a jump on some Christmas shopping. And I was there for a while – I’m always pretty indecisive when shopping for very little kids, and can spend about an hour wandering around in a pensive daze trying to figure out whether the child I’m shopping for would like the duck or the horsie better before throwing up my hands and telling myself the child is not even verbal yet, just pick something.
A lot of other kids were also there with their parents – I saw one father gleefully pile a whole kennels’ worth of stuffed dogs on top of a baby in a stroller, another mother chasing after her toddler who was running off with a stuffed pig. Two little girls were really attached to unicorn puppets. One girl was begging her father for a shark stuffie as large as she was. I also saw some young couples playing with some puppets, giggling as they made the puppets kiss each other.
There were four boys there too, as a group – I’m not sure whether they were friends, brothers, or some mix of brothers and cousins. But they were all about seven or eight, all of them gleefully romping through the place. “It’s Toy City!” one of them eagerly crowed, as he ran past the bins of stuffed critters. I next saw them all crowding around a bin full of yard-long stuffed toy snakes, and they all each pulled one out and draped them around their necks, and ran away, giggling. I’d see one of them every so often as browsed after that, pretending to make the snake bite their mom or bite each other on the butt or such.
Their parents finally rounded them up when I was done myself. “Okay, guys,” they called. “Time to put the snakes back.” The four boys obediently, but reluctantly, put the snakes back, giggling and saying goodbye as they did – “‘bye, guys! Be good snakes and have good homes!” And then they fell into step behind their amused parents and followed them downstairs. I followed behind them.
And that’s when I heard one boy say to another – “Know what?”
“Maybe when we’re adults we can come back here and get those snakes.”
“Yeah, let’s do that!”
And off they went.
In the 24 hours since, I have been hoping that those kids will indeed grow up and do exactly that.