This was my second holiday with Mateo in my life, but the first one where I really tried to please the boy by buying things he was (notice the "was") interested in. He loved Yo Gabba Gabba, so I bought him all the characters except Foofa (still have a problem with her and her flower and pinkness). He loved Little Einsteins, so I bought DVDs (not that he gets what they are), his Grandma bought him a Leo doll, and my co-worker bought him a Quincy doll. He loves Blues Clues (notice the present tense), so at the last minute I bought him a small Blue beanie baby and a Blues Clues board book for his stocking. He loves dinosaurs, so I bought him two stuffed dinos. He loves music and making music, so he's got a drum, a recorder, a saxophone and a tambourine from us, and a guitar from Grandma. And lots and lots of cars and what not.
What did I learn? Don't buy anything until it's a week before Christmas. That's what I learned. I had no idea kids switch their likings that quickly. By the time next week rolls around, he's going to hate dinos and never want to watch Blues Clues again. He'll be on to something totally unexpected like mud wrestling.
What I fear is his disappointment. But at the same time, I know he won't be. Because he was getting in a tizzy about a mini Cabbage Patch doll I bought for a niece. The doll turned out to be African American when I thought she was Latina. I decided to donate it to Toys for Tots instead of giving a Latina niece an African American doll and then being slightly confused. Mateo saw the package and I let him look at it, and then I tried to take it away, and then he had a fit and started crying big crocodile tears. So yeah, I don't think he'll be disappointed in his toys, but since I'm an adult and I have likes and dislikes, I can't help but feel like he will be all, "Moooooom (eye roll), Little Einsteins was soooo last month." Not that he can even say anything in that sentence except "mom."
Then there are the sales. And there is this store that's taken over our country and most other countries called Wal Mart. And I learned a very surprising lesson with Wal Mart just this past week. Apparently they will put one item on sale at a really low price and then a day or two later, up the price to almost full retail. So if you're like me, and you're thinking "omg, I didn't buy my son enough presents and he's going to hate everything and it's going to be horrible," and you happen to go to Wal Mart, and you happen to see a Diego Back Pack thing that you were thinking of getting your son but never did, and said Diego Back Pack is only $10.97 and there are literally 100s of them all over the store, but you know you've already spent too much money as it is on Christmas in general, and really, does the boy need another present, so you leave without it, but then you tell your husband about it and confess you feel like your son doesn't have nearly enough presents for Christmas day, and because your husband loves you and your son tons, he'll tell you to just go buy it, and so you decide to wait until two days later when you have free time instead of trying to squeeze in another shopping excursion, and so when you go back, that stupid Diego Back Pack is now $15.97.
Yeah. Like that.
Sure, I'm aware Amazon does this. And so now I hardly buy toys on Amazon. It drives me nuts that a toy one day could be 10 bucks but the next day be 150 bucks. So I only use Amazon for toy ideas. I realized I have to suffer Target, Wal Mart and Toys R Us to get some good deals on toys. But I never ever had any idea that Wal Mart does this evil low pricing one day to high pricing another day. That's just mean. Mean, mean, mean. And no, I didn't buy the Diego Back Pack because I wasn't going to spend 16 bucks on another toy. Instead I found a really cute Little People helicopter set for a mere $8.97, and I'm fairly certain that since Mateo is on an airplane kick as well as all the stuff mentioned above, and he doesn't quite get that a helicopter is not an airplane but that it sorta looks like one, he'll love it and love it more than the back pack. So there, I won on that one, Wal Mart.
Another thing I realized about shopping during the holidays is this, and yes, I'm going to let you in on my super duper secret: If you can shop between 7am to 9am, then you will suffer no crazy crowd issues, hardly any irate sales people, lots of open parking spots, and you don't waste much time unless you're like me and get all "ahhhh....there is no one here in this huge store with me and I can wander around looking at things." The only bad thing about going in the early morning is the people trying to stock at the same time don't like the fact that customers are milling about and getting in their way.
Now for the downfall of shopping during normal hours beside the usual (see above). I went to two different stores this week to buy last minute gifts, and I experienced the worst case of "white on riceness" I have ever experienced in my life.
Let me explain.
I went to Pier 1 to buy ornaments to give away as gifts. I was meandering around, looking at stuff when I was asked if I needed help twice. By the same person. At different times. Each time I said I was just looking, thanks. Then I went to the ornament display and was attacked (as I liken the experience to) by who I think was the store manager. She was a large lady, in her 20's or early 30's and loud as all get go. Loud yet friendly. But a type of friendly I don't like when I'm shopping. See, I like to be left alone. And if you ask me if I need help, and even if I do, I'll tell you no because I want to be left alone. I don't want to get some Chatty Cathy sales person all up in my business. I just want to find my item, pay for it, and leave.
I was looking at one display of ornaments when she screamed at me, "HI! HOW ARE YOU? CAN I HELP YOU FIND ANYTHING IN PARTICULAR TODAY????"
Oh no. No you may not, I thought.
"No, thanks. I'm just looking," I said.
"JUST LOOKING?!!! JUST TRYING TO SEE IF YOU CAN FIND SOMETHING THAT CATCHES YOUR EYE, HUH?"
Omg. You're scaring me now, I thought.
"Um, yeah," I mumbled and walked away.
I eventually had to be back in that same spot, which was where she decided to plant herself and yell at each person coming into the store. One guy actually chatted her up but then turned down her offer for gift ideas. She got a few more catches with some older ladies, so she was nicely occupied and I slunk off to pay.
I got up to the register and was patiently waiting in line, when a sales girl on the floor asked if I was ready. I said I was.
As she came around the counter to ring me up, she asked if I was already signed up for the e-mails from their store.
"I was," I said. You know, because that's going to end the conversation right then and there. Brilliant? Um, yeah.
"Do you want to be again?" she asked.
"No. Not really," I said. The sales person next to her snickered. "I get too many e-mails as it is."
The customer next to me said, "Amen to that."
This did not deter the sales person one stinking bit.
"Oh, well then. You can always sign up for our mailers," she told me while she cleverly placed one on the counter like she created it from magic. She pushed it toward me.
"Um, no. I get too much of that too. You know, ha ha, paper, trees, the waste?" I said. I kept looking at the mailer thinking, where the heck did that come from? She's quick, this one.
My transaction was finished up and I left without the mailer. Later on I started thinking they must have some contest going on where they harass customers so much that they'll sign up for emails or mailers just so the customers can be left alone in peace, and whoever gets the most scared customers to sign up will get a $20 gift card to Starbucks or something. I've worked retail for many, many years, and I know how this all works.
Two days later I went to Aaron Brothers to look at frames. As soon as I walked in the door, I got attacked with a loud and friendly, "Hello! Can I help you find something today!!!???"
I demurely declined her assistance even though the evil me wanted to say, "Frames? Can you help me find frames?"
I looked and looked and looked some more, and then I crossed the store and that's when I got attacked by another sales person. "Good afternoon!!!!" he yelled at me.
"Hi," I said. I eyeballed him. He eyeballed me. He took my eyeballing as a plea for help.
"Can I help you find anything today!!!!????" he asked. He stared. I felt like it was an old western shoot out.
"Um, no, just looking," I muttered.
Seriously, what is up with all the white on riceness these sales people are spewing at us customers? I know the economy stinks right now, but yelling niceties as soon as someone comes in the door is a bit much. After years and years of bad customer service in our country, you cannot expect us consumers to be all, "Ohhhhh....yes, please help me find this or that and aren't you nice" now.
I don't like it. Don't like it one bit. You leave me be and don't be nice to me while you're at it.