When I began planning the day, I had no idea what blind bags were. Boy was I was in for an education from my five-year-old grandaughter.
Her daddy is a teacher and he had an in-service day. But Laurel had the day off. It was a Friday—my regular day off. Perfect! I planned to spend the day with Lo. I went online and looked around for things to do with her in San Diego. We had not been to the New Children’s Museum for a couple of years. It is located downtown San Diego. So I decided we would head to the museum in the morning, and then do lunch at the Corvette Diner near Old Town just a couple miles from the museum before we headed home. I asked her mom if she had any shopping she needed to do. I was thinking maybe she needed a new backpack, or some school supplies, or maybe an umbrella since it has been raining so much this winter. Her mom just told me she had some money and was eager to spend it.
So the day before I FaceTimed with Laurel and asked her where she wanted to go shopping. Without any hesitation, she said, “Target.” I had an idea this meant she knew exactly what she wanted. She clearly had been “window shopping” before. Now she had the cash! I had no idea how much cash she had, but I would find out.
When I arrived at her house I told her what the plan was for the day. I said we would go to the New Children’s Museum, then to lunch, then we would shop before we headed home. Oh no. Very sweetly, and with eyes on me that could not be denied, she said, “Oh, Cec!” She calls me Cec (pronounced,Sees). Short for Cece (pronounced, SeeSee). It makes me melt. So there is not much she could say after “Oh Cec,” that would not get her whatever she wants! “Oh, Cec, can we go to Target first? Please. Pleeeeeeease?” she begged with enough sweetness to put me way over my recommended daily sugar intake. I explained to her that this would reduce the amount of time we could spend at the museum. She said she was okay with that. So, the agenda was changed. We would go shopping at Target first.
My usual routine when I go to Lo’s for the day, is to text or call my husband to let him know I arrived safely. The grandkids call him Papa. But Lo now endearingly calls him “Pops” for short. It melts him, too. So I called him to tell him I had arrived safely and that Laurel and I were headed out for the day. I told him Lo had revised the schedule and we were headed to Target to shop first. Papa knows I like Target, too. I often go there to purchase one or two needed items. I come home with bags and bags of stuff that I simply could not resist. Stuff that had my name all over it. Just what I needed and in my colors! Target seems to know just what I need and always displays these things on the end caps so that I simply cannot miss them.
So, Papa says to me, “Don’t spend all your money.”
“Ok, Papa, no guarantees, but I will keep your suggestion in mind!” I responded.
After I hung up, it was clear LoLo had been paying close attention to the conversation with Papa.
“Papa has lots of money, Cec,” LoLo informed me.
“Oh, yah?” I responded with a fair amount of curiosity in my voice.
“Yup,” she said, “He has a whole bowl full of money in his bedroom.” She continued to inform me, “It’s as big as a cereal bowl and it is full of money.”
Wait, there’s more.
With great drama she explained, “It’s so full that if he had another one hundred coins they would just fall out because it is so full.”
Wow! Who knew? My husband was holding out on me. He had so much money that he had no room for any more! Such is the perception of a five year old. I decided to go with her perception, rather than my husband’s admonition on this shopping day. I would shop with that bowl full of money in mind.
Given this conversation on the way to Target, I thought perhaps LoLo had a purse full of money and that she would be spending a lot. As it turned out, she had a much more realistic perception of her own money and was surprisingly and pleasantly frugal about it. She had ten dollars to spend. I was especially pleased to learn she also had some other money in a zippered pocket in her purse that was reserved for her to give to her church. This is gratifying evidence of a value passed on. When her daddy was growing up, we taught him to “give some, save some, and spend some.” Clearly, her daddy and mommy were passing on this value. Never once did she open that zipper with her church money to borrow or ask if she could use it, too.
And, clearly she had been window shopping. Laurel knew exactly what she wanted. Little things. She loves little things. Miniatures. And she loves surprises. It just so happens that children’s programs and movies are creating major product lines specifically targeting this love of little things and surprise things. They are called “blind bags.” And they are hot! These small plastic bags have little characters in them from Frozen, Zootopia, Shopkins, Heroes, Marvel, My Little Pony, Finding Dory and Nemo, and many more. You name it, there are blind bags for children to buy. Of course there are entire collections of each kind, so it keeps the children returning to buy more characters. And, to make purchasing the whole collection an explicit goal, the blind bags have check lists inside so the child can keep track of which characters they have and which ones they still need. What marketing genius! After all, a child could keep spending money and keep getting the same character over and over. It could take a lot of time and a lot of money to get the entire collection. Remember they are “blind bags.” What’s inside is a surprise. But Lo had found a way around this obstacle. Lo discovered a little “window” in the blind bags. If you manipulate them just so, she demonstrated for me, you can see what character is inside! She peaked into the window of several blind bags in order to find a character that she did not already have. I was totally transfixed with this child’s consumer knowledge of such things.
The little blind bags she was looking at ranged in price from $2.49 to $4.99. Each time she examined one she would ask me, “If I get this one Cec, can I still get something else?” As a result, after she chose three of them she still had about a dollar and a half left. Wouldn’t you know, we found a blind bag on clearance for $0.74. This little woman had ten dollars. She found four little things she liked, and when we checked out, after tax, she had $0.08 left!
I was quite impressed. LoLo never once asked for anything else, but she did such a great job of staying in her budget that I was tempted to buy her something to reward her. However, I restrained my Gramasylum impulses as I realized that it was important for her to learn the value of saving and buying and being satisfied. Ok. She did show me one thing that she really liked and said maybe it could be something for her birthday. I told her I would keep it in mind. But today she really was pleased as punch with her little purchases. When she got in the car and opened one of them, in it was the check list. She seemed as excited about the check list as she was the toy. First thing she wanted to do when we got home was find a pen and check off the Shopkins characters she purchased. Ten dollars worth of pure joy.
When her dad came home from work and I was preparing to leave, I realized that I had been so enthralled with Laurel’s focus in her purchases, so intrigued by her teaching me about blind bags, and so proud of her restraint in shopping, that I completely forgot to spend any money myself! I didn’t see or notice anything I needed. Even though Papa has all that money in that bowl, I did not spend a cent. Oh well. There is always next time. This was a crazy wonderful day without buying a thing!