I went to Target the other day on my lunch break. I usually go on the weekends, but I needed to exchange something and figured I’d just get it out of the way and beat the weekend crowd. The weekend crowd and the weekday lunchtime crowd are totally different, and as I pushed my bright red cart around I started to feel a weird sense of nostalgia. It took me a while, but I finally realized why.
When my daughter was born, I worked part-time for a while so we were the weekday lunchtime crowd. Nobody likes taking a cranky toddler to a crowded Target on the weekend, or, well, anywhere at any time at all, so we’d go during the week when the other moms and kids were there. We’d go and get whatever we needed to get and some things we didn’t need because that’s just how it is at Target. If my daughter was good, she’d get to pick out a little toy. (Don’t judge, I was not above bribery! The toddler years were stressful.) Usually she’d pick out a little plastic animal figurine and she amassed quite a collection over the toddler years. Meerkats, pandas, elephants, and even a unicorn…basically any animal you can think of.
So, when I passed the toy aisle and saw a mom and her little kid, I was reminded of that phase, and I admit, it was kind of bittersweet. As cool as it is to watch my girl grow up and to see all of the potential she has, I kind of miss those days. And her growing up is also a reminder that I’m growing older. I realize that this is the way of the world, but ten years ago when she picked out her first plastic animal seemed like yesterday, but it wasn’t. It was TEN YEARS AGO. So much has happened in those ten years, that it’s hard to wrap my head around.
I don’t really remember what the last animal she got was or when exactly we grew out of that phase, but she’s twelve now and I don’t have to bribe her anymore. But…I kind of miss letting her go pick out a new animal. Now she has her allowance money to buy her own stuff. These days it’s art supplies and the occasional Lego set. She’s in a place where even though she likes the more grown up feeling of being in middle school, she’s still holding on to a bit of her childhood, which is cool. And I suspect she was too young to remember our weekday trips to Target, but every time we clean out her room and donate what she’s outgrown, she still holds onto those plastic animals, which always gives me a little smile.