Winter time has me searching for places outside our hibernation cave to play with Carter. I found this new play place fifteen minutes from where we live.
Since I've been to a few of these pay-to-play places, I had an idea of what to expect. A giant room, most likely sectioned off with different themed moon bounces, balls, cars or tunnels. Usually never anything of real interest to Carter, he's a little afraid of moon bounces and gets bored easily with riding toys.
But this place was different. I was kinda surprised to walk in at 1 p.m. and find it completely vacant except for the woman who worked there. Behind her was a large room, fully stocked with tiny, carefully placed toys. There were puzzles purposely stacked - one row for boys, another for girls, - a tiny kitchen with dishes, plastic food and utensils sorted in the drawers and cabinets, shelves of hundreds of books (I bet you they were alphabetical) and doll houses staged as if they should never be disturbed. There were about ten giant buckets. Each bucket was filled with its own theme: matchbox cars, dinosaurs, monsters, musical instruments, farm animals, you name it, it had a bucket.
So the woman charged us $7.50 (I know, right?!) and through the gate Carter went. As soon as his eyes met the thousands of tiny toys, he set out to prove his ancient warrior name - Destroyer of all that is Organized.
And I let him. He pulled out everything from its little designated home, just so he could show it to me, get my Wow! of approval and then throw it on the floor. I didn't think anything of it; that's what the toys were there for, right? For play. Like most little boys, destroy is Carter's interpretation of play.
After ten minutes of this, Carter and I wandered off a few feet to explore a nearby mini basketball court. I glanced behind me, and strangely, that woman was there, picking up and perfectly reassembling every toy back exactly the way it belonged.
First I thought to myself, I wish she wouldn't do that, he's going to go right back and play over there again. But then I reasoned, She did charge $7.50 for a child that's not even 2 years old, I suppose I'm getting my money's worth. I felt guilty seeing someone clean up our mess, though.
Sure enough, we went to and from that area a few more times, each time pulling out everything she'd just put away. I ended up sacrificing playing with him to casually (but definitely not frantically) picking up after him here and there. But it started getting awkward. The woman eventually adopted a standing spot against the wall everywhere we went, watching us. Whenever we paused for too long with a group of toys, she was behind us, meticulously cleaning them up.
I'm thinking we're not going back to that place.
I'd considered Carter and I a team during the Destroyer vs. PsychoOrganizerLady battle, but on our way out, Carter was being all independent-like and no-no'd me when I offered to hold hands.
Carry on your way, lone Destroyer, carry on.
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