Saturday, September 9, 2006

Toys: Not for people

This post still needs links and pics. The original Blogware post

Saturday. We needed lots of groceries. After a leisurely breakfast, and with U in a good mood, we ran some errands together and then headed to Woodman's. U was in a good mood, but evidently it was not a mood for grocery shopping. Don pushed the cart around the produce section while I alternately ran in circles after U or held him while he squirmed to be put down. As we began down the meat aisle, the squirming got beyond the level I could overcome.

Time for our standing Plan B for grocery shopping: one of us takes U to a playground while the other shops. Don and I agreed to meet in an hour at the pickup door. I bundled up Ulysses best I could and headed for the exit. Squalling. I walked outside, booking for the van. Squalling and twisting. I stopped and let him down onto the parking lot asphalt to see what he wanted. He turned 180 degrees and made straight for the supermarket entrance.

So he wanted to be in the grocery store -- just not following around after boring ol' us.

First, it was an extended tour of the produce section. I took on the job of keeping people from accidentally walking into this small person with their carts, or whirling into him as they turned from the produce displays to heft their bags of plums or sacks of onions into their carts.

Then it was along the seasonal aisle, past the early scatterings of Halloween candy and the leavings of picnic supplies. Next past the long line of registers. Then into the pet section -- but hold on, what's this? A tall display of colorful, soft and cuddly plush birds from the Audubon Society, complete with electronic bird songs authentic to each species, bearing the imprimateur of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Society! Collectibles. Just press the bird's belly, and it bursts into song. We had found our home for the next 40 minutes. The intricate, melodic twittering of a Purple Finch. The various rappings of a Pileated Woodpecker and a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker.

For some reason, the Nighthawk, with its plaintive cheeping, scared Ulysses. When I showed him the bird, he looked apprehensive. When I squeezed it so it sang, he screamed a little and ran away, and not in a kidding way. He loved all the other birds, and the gray and red squirrels with their barkings, too. I came back to the Nighthawk a few times, experimentally, and each time he was upset.

A girl of perhaps 7 came by with an older woman -- her grandmother, I guessed -- who was pushing a cart of groceries. "Oh, these are nice," she said, and looked up at her grandmother with something like hope.

"No," said the grandmother. "Those aren't toys. Those are for people." And she pushed on past us.

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