On Sunday evening, my family went out to our local big box bookstore (which, as much as I can’t stand box stores, I love books, and the latter wins) to spend a couple gift cards we had received for Christmas. To me, there is nothing better than browsing shelves of books. So many possibilities, so many things to learn, so very much to read, and so little time for it. It is a problem I love to have that should never disappear from the great majority of humanity.
But big stores, because of their nature of wanting to pull everyone in to buy more and more, have a problem. I do not know if it is of their creation, or a manifestation of greater cultural destruction. I do know that it bothers me to no end, and the longer I dealt with it the other night, the more apparently damaging it became.
The issue here is toys being in bookstores. I am sure I was no better as a child. But why not shoot for ideals in life? Basically, I seem to remember wanting to get stacks and stacks of books. That was the goal. There was (and is) nothing greater. This is a trait my wife possesses as well. We cannot get out of a bookstore with fewer than an armful of new reading material. And this is a trait we wish to impart on our son.
Sadly, it is tough to get excited about getting a new book when right next to the books is a shelf full of shiny electronic toys or colorful stuffed animals. How can some boring pages of text compete with that? It cannot, and that is why our boy, even when sitting in front of a shelf of dinosaur books, couldn’t tear his eyes away from the boys next to him checking out boxed toys and then up and grabbing boxes for himself.
We eventually managed to peel him away from those things to sitting on a center couch in the children section of the store. My wife and I took turns looking and bringing books to him while he sat and checked out the books left in a pile there. My relief was short-lived, because along with the books left at the couch were dragon puppets. Oh hot diggity. (By the way, ‘diggity’ is not a word according to this compy’s dictionary (neither is compy, alas). How the heck then would one write out ‘hot diggity dog’? What a world…)
My son is not one for doing things at a minimal level. So, in his amazing world, what could possibly be better than one dragon puppet on your hand? This is easy to solve, folks. After all, he has two hands…
Joy of joys. Now my son wants to check out books with a dragon on each hand. Unfortunately for him, it turns out dragons are illiterate by design and can’t open books themselves. May as well just run around and play, I guess. And when I did try to get him to sit and look at a couple books with me, he couldn’t stop fiddling with the puppets on his hands.
In all seriousness, it really bothers me that there are any built in distractions away from books. Books and literacy for the commons was (and forever shall be) the salvation of mankind. Why take away from this? How dare anyone take away from this! My son should be in rapture at just how many books there are and that they could all be read. Just start grabbing things you’d like to check out and sort it later!
We did finally make it out of there without me losing it. Along the way, I did manage to get a book or two (or four) of my own. I’m sure I’ll get around to reading them once I’m done with my homework and the present my dad gave me for Christmas: a first edition copy of T E Lawrence’s Seven Pillars of Wisdom. I’m stoked to read it.
Here is what I managed to escape the store with: