Brilliant scheme takes flight

Emily Bialkowski
Managing Editor

We were brilliant for a very, very short period of time, my husband and I, that is.

On the way home from a recent family trip we stopped in Kellogg, Minn. at LARK Toys to see this famous toy store and get ideas for Christmas gifts for our six-year-old. The store did not disappoint and offered room after room of every kind of toy you can imagine: science toys, fluffy, stuffy, squishy cuddly toys, educational toys, train toys, costume toys, aircraft toys, experiemental toys, book toys, building toys, collectible toys and more. It was candy for the eyes and candy for all ages as we prowled around the rooms finding old favorites and new, inventive toys we had never seen before.

Early on in our viewing Sophie spotted a wall of kites. We like to fly kites in late winter and poor Sponge Bob and the monarch butterly had fallen victim to rough play.

I knew she needed a new kite, and I knew these wonderful kites were not something I could get everyday. They were oversized, made of nylon and came in a variety of shapes and bold colors, like butterflies, airplanes, birds, reptiles and – the best of all – a magnificent black shark.

If you even mildy snooped around our house you’d find an inordinate amount of shark literature. It’s one of Sophie’s favorite topics, and she’s not short on shark books, toys and other paraphernalia.

I just stood there imagining this big, dark, seven foot long, toothy thing airborne looking down upon our family as we admired its flight.

I had to get it for her. I didn’t even care what the price tag was. But, knowing it would be a bit spendy, I wanted it to be a Christmas present. Her dad asked her how much it was – about $30. He reacted just the way I wanted him to, saying, “Thirty dollars is a bit much for a kite.”

We walked away and I pulled his ear near my face and said, “Take her so I can buy the kite for her for Christmas.”

He got my drift right away and he loudly suggested she look at some random thing in another room.

I grabbed the shark, which happened to be the last one – even better for my scheme. I took it to the register and told the lady I was trying to hide it from our daughter in the store. She got my drift right away, too, grabbed the tag and put the shark under the counter so she could proceed with ringing me up without the beasty on the counter.

As I stood there feeling right full of myself I realized I didn’t have the car keys, so I dashed to Brady and made some weird gesture indicating I needed the keys. He tossed the keys and I ran back to the register, paid and sped out the door to throw the shark under our suitcases.

Success! We’re the best parents ever, I thought.

We continued to peruse the store with Sophie asking us to buy just about every other toy she picked up. I was prepared to spend a little more money on a little toy to pacify her desire for a little souvenir from our trip, but she wasn’t into any of the small toys, naturally.

At the end of our tour she asked if she could get the shark kite. Knowing I took the last one I said, “Well, we can look at it again.”

She ran over to the rack and hit the breaks as soon as she realized it was gone. “Oh no,” I said, “Someone must have bought the last one.”

I was really feeling full of myself then… until the tears came – big, rolling alligator tears. She wasn’t loud about her broken heart. She got in the car with her red faced streaked by tears the size of pearls. Whoa. I was really starting to feel bad, but that resilient little kid bucked up and managed to get through her hurt.

When we got home I joyously put that big, bad shark in the back of the closet and hid it behind an old, floor-length dress.

Our brilliance was quickly washed away the other day when Sophie played hide and seek.

“Mom, I think I saw something I wasn’t supposed to,” she said white faced.

God bless her honest little heart. She thought I’d be mad at her. I said, “I’m not mad at you, Sophie. We just wanted to do something special for you for Christmas.”

“Can I have it now,” she asked.

“Well, it was supposed to be for Christmas,” I started, and before I could get another word out, she said, “I’ll probably forget about it by then.”


You can contact Emily Bialkowski at [email protected]