Every time could be the last time in the toy aisle.
I spent over an hour with this kid walking through all the toys of the land—or at least the land of Target—and thinking about all the ways he could spend his cash as he dreamed his toy-filled dreams, and I watched him wanting it to last forever.
I used to rush us through this space. So much begging and thinking endlessly about which Barbie or princess or craft kit or LEGO set was just the right one, and I really just wanted to sit on the couch, and for the love—just choose already, small humans.
But the last kid?
That kid gets the mom who knows sitting on the couch lasts forever but the toy aisle is a fleeting thing and the joy in a kid’s heart when they are full-on enthralled with Spiderman or stuffed animals or the intricacies of what makes one Nerf gun different from another . . . well that will be over before you know it, so you just have to enjoy.
He held my hand and talked my ear off. He examined each and every thing he was considering and told me why it was all “so cool.”
We chatted about budgets and saving and how the LEGO Millennium Falcon was really the thing he wanted the most, but no I didn’t think it would be a good family gift for Christmas—he might just need to save up his pennies.
I still have some sense after all. And the big kids tend to hold me in check when it comes to their little brother.
The last child might get too much time on screens and not enough bedtimes and definitely gets away with being a little lacking with their food groups.
They are allowed to eat hot lunch on a loop instead of the fresh bento boxes their siblings ate each day.
They certainly should not be watching New Girl over the shoulder of their big sister, but also we’re tired and the episode is a good one, and really I’ll just pretend it’s the 80s and hope most of it goes over your head like all the parts of Dallas that went over mine.
They get away with not helping clean the kitchen because they are the littlest, and yet, their oldest sibling would be glad to tell you they were mowing the lawn at their same age.
They get tucked in and no one even raises an eyebrow when they come down an hour later to make their own snack and have a chat, then put themselves back to bed where they may or may not still be playing with LEGOS.
But they get a slower, more patient parent in the bargain who isn’t in any rush to get to the dishes but instead wants to slow every single thing down they can, especially the parts that are magic.
The toy loving and the hand-holding and the hugging when they see you in the hall at school. The parts where imagination is in charge and all things are possible and hanging out with mom in the toy aisle is a pretty good Wednesday night.
The last kid gets the parent who knows it won’t last forever, and so they are holding on just a bit tighter and lingering over all the things.
The last kid gets the parent who is a little older and a whole lot wiser.
Because we know when the last time comes, there are no more chances.
We might only have today to love them and listen as hard as we can in the toy aisle.