So a couple of months ago I found myself at Lark Toys. Have you been? I hadn’t and truthfully really hadn’t heard of it prior to my brother Chad taking his kids there. It’s a “mom and pop” type toy haven about 45 minutes from Rochester. It is definitely every child’s dream! So, you are probably wondering WHY a woman with 2 GROWN sons ended up at a toy haven.
Here’s the story…..
It was a Saturday and my brother Chad and I were in the kitchen, me cleaning and Chad was making coffee.
Chad: So, I don’t know what to do? I told the kids I would take them to Lark Toys today but I forgot that I had promised my buddy that I would help him put up a deck today.
Me: <half listening> hmmm……what is Lark toys?
Chad: A little toy shop about “20 minutes away”….
Me: huh, I’m not familiar with it…..
Chad: Yeah, its pretty cool. So, yeah I don’t know what to do……
Me: <thinking I’m busy and have a ton of things to get done but….> Ally and I could take them I guess….. <volunteering my sister who was also at my house> <I am envisioning Toys R Us, quick in and out we will be back in no time…>
So, it was decided that I would take them.
Chad leaves to help buddy put up deck (and later do a fantasy football draft…..the plot thickens!).
Ally returns from wherever she was, and I announce that we are taking the kids to Lark toys!
Ally: WTH? <my sister has a variety of ways she says WTH, and this one wasn’t the joking one>
Me: <gulp> Yeah, Chad promised but forgot he had previous obligations to a friend and so I said we would take them 🙂
Ally: Carla, do you KNOW what Lark Toys is?
Me: <duh> A toy shop.
Ally: It’s not just a toy shop Carla, it’s a blood sucking, energy draining money trap where once you enter you are not getting out without some serious damage to your wallet! And they have rides…..
Me: <thinking, “she is so dramatic and negative!> It can’t be that bad….and it’s just a short drive away, 20 minutes.
Ally: <her devilish laugh> Oh you will see….and it’s not 20 minutes away, its like 50 minutes away….
Me: <I’ve been HAD>
Ally: I hate my brother….
Me: <she is SO dramatic, and I’m still thinking that it can’t be that bad….>
So, we wrangle up the 4 kids in Ally’s van and away we go for the 20 minute, aka 50 minute drive to Lark Toys! This will be fun!
20 minutes into our drive I try to be funny because remember, it was “just 20 minutes away” per Chad (apparently as a crow flies)…
Me: Are we there yet? <smiling>
Ally: <she also a variety of death looks that she gives: a ‘0′ is her ‘not really that pissed’ look, to a ‘10‘ which is her ‘I’m totally pissed’ look scale; she gave me about a 5 look>
Me: <maybe I don’t like my brother>
We arrive at Lark Toys and I take in the “shop”. I see the mini golf area outside, and I learn that there is a carousel they can ride inside as well. I am starting to think this quick trip will not be very quick….
It’s like a museum of sorts and I am thinking that this isn’t so bad! We just look at the toys (some scary, like the dolls with the scary eyes with one half closed, etc). I say as much to Ally…. <she laughs her bah-ha-huh laugh (devil laugh)>
Ally: Just wait…..
We round the corner and I start to see the reality of the situation. It is alcoves, displays, nooks and crannies, large and small rooms and shelves upon shelves FULL of toys….to purchase.
Me: <I really dislike my brother>
And so it begins.
If you can imagine, it’s like being in Hobby Lobby but only like once a year or so….and you have to take in EVERY thing and there IS SO MUCH to look at!
Right away I say to Noli and Madi that they can each pick out one thing. How bad can that be? <bah-ha-huh!>
And then it begins, the endless wandering and the choices, so many choices to narrow down to just….one…..
We will be here all day.
Ally starts to follow Eli who’s off at a run! Ally looks back at me, with a mixed look of complete disdain and total defeat. I start to follow Nolan around. Ally and I do our best to keep tabs on the girls but I tell Madi to keep Bell close to her because we are being pulled all over the place by two lovers of all things toys!
And Nolan does love toys. This is one kid that play endlessly with ALL of his toys. It changes from day to day. One day it Pirates and dinosaurs, the next it’s Captain America and all things superheroes. Then it’s stuffed animals and forts, and that is followed up by legos and cars. I mean this kid LOVES toys. And he is in HEAVEN!
We wander to the dragons and knights first.
Me: These are cool Noli, let’s get this…. <and leave!>
It is a definite possibility but obviously we have to look more…..
And so it continues, from one end to the next: dinosours, dragons, knights, legos, cars, books, stuffed animals, ghostbusters, superheroes…you get the idea. Hobby Lobby on steroids, but for kids!
I see Ally ahead of me following Eli in a trance like state. I decide not to make eye contact….
We stop by a Ghostbusters playset and I gander at the price…nearly $100! <gulp> He loves it though. And it is one thing…. I pull out my phone as he is drooling over it and look on Amazon, I can get the same thing for almost $25 less!
Me: Noli, you can get this anywhere. Why don’t we find something that is more unique that you can’t get at just any store. And also, this is more like a Christmas gift, let’s look at things that aren’t quite as expensive. And so it continues….one end to the other. dragons, dinosaurs, stuffed animals, wood blocks, handmade wood cars and trucks and so on and on and on….
After what seemed like an endless amount of time, Nolan settles on the dragons and knights. This is painful for him as there is just so much….and just one, how does he make that choice?
Noli: If I get two small ones can I get two? <he’s looking at me with those big brown eyes…..>
Me: Ok < I mean how bad can that be, I mean they are small so I am thinking, cheaper???>
He picks out a knight and a dragon.
Me: Those look cool! <then I eye the price tag and almost choke….> Maybe we should get this one? <saving $10>
Noli: That’s cool but I really like this one….
I agree, at this point I don’t care the price, let’s just get out of this blood sucking, energy draining money trap which is doing some serious damage to my wallet!
I pay for Nolan’s TWO items that set me back about $60 and Madisyn’s $12 book (got off easy on that one).
Then we meet back up with Ally who says in the most drained voice possible, and with a look of total vanquishment….
Ally: I already got the carousel tickets.
Me: That costs money too?
Ally: <gave me a look that said something like “you’re an idiot>
The kids chime in on our drained conversation….
Kids: Now ice cream and candy!
Me: <looking at Ally with now what is also a defeated look> Ice cream? Candy?
Ally: as I said…blood sucking, energy draining money pit….
Me: <I am starting to hate my brother….>
We go to the candy shop part of the shop. As you can imagine, all sorts of candy priced to add just enough insult to the wallet injury. Ally tells her kids they each get EITHER candy or ice cream. I agree. But Noli again….with the big brown puppy dog eyes….
Noli: I can’t have a candy and ice cream?
Me: <those eyes> Ok, you can have one candy and ice cream…but that’s it! <who am I kidding? I just got suckered!>
We head to the ice cream counter AFTER the candy racket shop.
About $10 for two tiny dishes of ice cream….
Then we head to the carousel. We have to wait nearly 30 minutes for the next ride to begin. So we sit and the kids enjoy their ice cream, all while looking at their new treasures! It is sweet, and for them such a great day! I enjoy the moment and savor the fact that I get to be involved with my nieces and nephews on such an intimate, everyday level. I am blessed!
Finally it is time for the carousel. They line up and find their prospective horses and climb on! Total joy on their faces. I snap photos and my heart melts to see their smiles! The carousel goes round and round for what feels like…..a minute, after waiting 30 minutes for the ride and it is over and they all clamber off.
We are free!
We head to the door but I am forgetting one last hurdle!
Kids: Can we do mini golf? PLEEEEASE?! <big brown eyes>
Me: <I am caving>
Ally: Nope! They are closing soon and there is not enough time (half truth)! IN THE VAN!
Me: <thank God for my hard ass sister!>
Kids: But we NEVER get to do mini golf, like EVER!….. PLEEEEASE…..
Ally is walking towards van. I am following. They are of course working on the weakest link (me in case you are wondering) the whole way to the van. I feel like a bad aunt….
Me: Well maybe…
Ally: <death glare>
Me: Ok kids, Ally is right, it is gonna close soon and we have to get back. NEXT TIME! <there will be NO next time>
Kids: <begging as they get in the van>
Me: <as I climb in the passenger seat for our 20 minute, aka 50 minute drive home with begging kids who are mad that mini golf is out…..> I hate my brother.
Ally and I drive in mostly silence the whole way home, spent from a day at Lark Toys. The kids chattering and giggling in the backseat!
Me: <start laughing> My poor boys, they never even knew a place like that existed growing up!
I didn’t see Chad that day (football draft you know) but the next day I did mention that my 20 minutes and his 20 minutes are very different!
Chad: What? It’s like 20 minutes away or so…
Ally: <who stayed the night> Heavy on the “or so”…..
Being Anderson, all if forgotten and forgiven by the next morning. We really don’t hate our baby brother, although Ally may still have some lingering attitude from the previous day.
Nolan shares his treasures with Chad and sits and plays the day away with his new toys. He does love his magical play world!
And bigger than all of that, these kiddos are making memories with their cousins that they love so much! And Ally and I too, I guess 😉