"Upon Learning That Toys'R'Us Was Going Out of Business and I Never Did Win That Shopping Spree" by Isabella J Mansfield


When I heard that Toys'R'Us was going out of business, I assumed it would be the same way Sears has “gone out of business” every couple years but is still hanging on in a weird way, a creepy uncle who just doesn’t know when the party is over.

 

We all know nobody shops anymore. Not outside anyway, not where the real people are, where the shopping requires a bra or pants or something that resembles social skills. The same things I would have circled in the toy catalog are readily available with a tap or a click and I can hide behind my social awkwardness and the curtains until the brown truck has driven away.

 

When I was little I used to imagine winning a shopping spree at a toy store, getting every doll and game my greedy childhood heart desired. Maybe, I’d think, if he were nicer, I’d even get one thing for my big brother.

 

These Nickelodeon televised events - over in mere moments where you watched and criticized an 8-year-old for “doing it wrong,” because YOUR strategy would have been to go straight for the video games, and with a single arm sweep, load the cart with cartridges and then as many bicycles as you could run to the front with, before tripping on your untied laces. Me, I would have raced to the Barbie aisle and then stopped dead in my tracks; given free reign and unlimited funds and I still would have struggled to make anything resembling a decision.

 

The beauty of being a child is feeling like all of the things you love in your life are a constant; you don’t know not to take things for granted because there will always be summer vacations, there will always be friends at the playground. Your mom will always be in the kitchen, your brothers will always tease you and your dad will always call you every Sunday

 

And Geoffrey the Giraffe will always be there to tell you that you never have to grow up. You can always be a Toys'R'Us kid.

 

Without Toys'R'Us, where will we go on a Friday night with our friends, when we’re high? Who will be the store manager who kicks us out for racing scooters or taking deplorable selfies with life sized stormtroopers? Where will we go on a Sunday afternoon, on a random post-brunch date, to wander around, basking in the glow of fluorescent lights, considering a board game or a puzzle for rainy days? When we’ve grown up a little, where will we take our children, to show them the wonderment of endless rows of LEGOs?

 

Who do we turn to when we don’t wanna grow up, when we need to pretend dad is still holding our hand while we drag him to the Barbie aisle, hoping maybe he’ll see our indecision and let us have both dolls this time?

 

How do we mourn a childhood that we outgrew without realizing, without knowing it was happening?

 

Where will we buy our nostalgia? Where do we bury a giraffe?